Q: What do I need to know about buying a house in the winter?
A: Icy driveways and snowed-out open houses can be less than thrilling, but there are surprising benefits to purchasing a home during the coldest time of year.
It can be difficult to check out a property that is covered in snow. There will also be some structural elements, like the septic tank, roof and A/C system that can be difficult or impossible to inspect.
Home-shopping during the winter also means working with fewer homes for sale. That’s because most sellers put their houses on the market in the spring, hoping to sell well before autumn.
Finally, if you decide to go through with a sale during winter, expect delays during the process. Inclement weather can push off the scheduling of important events, like the inspection, appraisal and final walk-through.
Homeowners who choose to list their properties for sale during winter may be quite eager to sell. You’ll also find homes that have been on the market since the previous spring with an equally motivated seller. Plus, the smaller pool of buyers during the winter puts you at an advantage. These factors will make it easier for you to negotiate a lower price and to ask for extras like light fixtures and appliances.
Buying a home in the winter can also mean enjoying better service from the professionals you work with during the process. Your real estate agent, home inspector and lender will have fewer clients and therefore be able to provide you with optimal service.
Finally, inspecting a home during harsh weather will enable you to see how the house handles the cold, snow and ice and to check out the heating system.
Tips and tricks
If you’ve decided to go house-hunting during the winter, keep these tips in mind:
- Ask for photos showcasing the home’s exterior during the spring and summer months.
- Offer a starting bid that is well below the listed price.
- Ask for documentation, such as inspection receipts and purchase dates, for the home features that are difficult to check out because of the weather.
Next season’s sellers will start listing homes right after the Super Bowl. So, if you can’t find that perfect house just yet, hang tight until you find what you seek.
The real estate market may cool down during the winter, but if you know how to optimize the advantages, you can walk away with a hot deal during the coldest time of year.
Are you in the market for a new home? Contact Olean Area Federal Credit Union to ask about our home mortgage options!