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When is the best time to buy a home?

Timing determines so much when you are buying a house. Although the best time to buy a house is when you are ready, both financially and emotionally, there are other factors that can help you decide when to buy a house. By timing your purchase just right, you can grab a great home that’s just right for you.

WHAT IS THE BEST MONTH TO BUY A HOUSE?

To be frank, there is no such thing as a guaranteed “best month” to purchase a home. While some conventional wisdom says there is a best time of year to buy a house — during spring homebuying season (April to June) — there are pluses and minuses when it comes to what month you choose to purchase a home.

Real estate is local. Determining a best time ultimately depends on conditions in your local market. Here I have outlined some of the reasons different months can turn out to be the best time to buy a house for you:

• January to March — Winter is not such a bad time to buy a house. Though there is less inventory — meaning there are fewer homes for sale — there are fewer homebuyers, too, so you have less competition. That means there is a lower likelihood of a bidding war. Another benefit of buying a house during the cold-weather months: Home prices are typically the lowest they will be all year.

Still, there are drawbacks to buying a house between January and March. Inclement weather can also be a challenge, since snow or ice could make it difficult to drive around and view homes or do a thorough home inspection of some elements, such as a roof.

• April to June — Welcome to spring homebuying season — the peak months for not only housing supply, but also the number of homebuyers shopping for houses. Because most families want to move when the kids are out of school, there is a big incentive to buy a house this time of year, since many homebuyers need to allow 30 to 60 days for closing. The warmer weather also makes open houses more enjoyable, landscaping easier to evaluate and inspections more comprehensive.

Even though it is generally regarded as the best time of year to buy a house, there are downsides to the spring market. For starters, you will face more competition from other homebuyers — meaning you have to move quickly when a great listing hits the market. Bidding wars are a lot more common, you tend to have less negotiating power and home prices tend to tick up during spring.

• July to September — If you can handle the heat, and a little competition, summer may be the one of the best times of year to buy. Now that the spring homebuying craze is over, most home prices return to normal, allowing you to save some money. The sunniest time of the year also makes being outdoors and attending open houses more enjoyable. The hot temperatures also give homebuyers the opportunity to test how well a property’s air conditioning system holds up in warm weather, which is something they cannot usually test during other times of the year.

• October to December — The main downside of buying a house in autumn is that there may not be as many homes for sale in the fall as there are in the spring. But the market doesn’t go completely quiet. Many homebuyers consider fall the best time of year to buy a house because of price reductions. Because home sellers tend to list their homes in the spring, sellers whose houses have not sold yet may be motivated to find buyers, and prices start to reflect that.

IS 2021 A GOOD YEAR TO BUY A HOUSE?

Economic forecasts vary every year, but waiting around for annual market fluctuations is not the best way to decide when to buy a house. The best year to buy a house is when you and anyone you intend to buy a house with are ready. To help, ask yourself the following questions.

There is no magical age or life stage at which you will know for sure exactly when to buy a house. There are, however, a few factors you will want to consider:

• Finances. How is your credit score? Can you afford to take on a monthly mortgage payment? Do you have enough cash to pay for a down payment and closing costs? Sit down with a mortgage lender who can help you evaluate your finances.

You also will need to budget for home maintenance expenses. One rule of thumb says homeowners should set aside 1 to 3 percent of their home’s purchase price per year for home maintenance and repairs. So, if your home cost $400,000, you would set aside at least $4,000 annually.

• Stability. If you’re on solid ground financially, with a stable job to support you, buying a home can be a way to lower your monthly housing costs, gain a valuable financial asset, and, if you itemize, reap some tax benefits. If you are ready to commit to a home and city and / or your job for a few years, you are likely in a stable enough situation to be a homeowner.

• Lifestyle: Owning a house allows you to develop a strong relationship with a local community. Buying a home should align with your life goals. If you are starting a family soon, planting your roots in a kid-friendly neighborhood with a great school district is usually a good reason to buy a house.

There is also something to be said about the pride of owning a home and having a place you can call yours — one that you can customize to your heart’s desire.

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