Common thinking is that summer is the best time for buying a new home. Supply tends to be higher in the warmer months (giving you more options to choose from), and moving is less of a hassle when it’s sunny outside. On the other hand, competition is much more heated from May to September, and bidding wars are more common with a larger number of buyers scrambling to get the best options on the market. The winter months present a good opportunity for investors and buyers to make a good deal and negotiate on price.
Here are some tips for buyers braving the cold this winter:
Have a pre-approval in hand
Being pre-approved when you start visiting homes is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer. When the weather is bad, you won’t want to be wasting your own time and trudging around in the cold to visit homes you can’t afford. Make sure you know your exact loan capacity before you book the first visit, and read up on closing costs to ensure your savings are sufficient to comfortably go through with the purchase.
Make good use of your weekends
With the daylight hours being being shorter, chances are it’ll already be dark by the time you finish work. Since it’s never advised to make an offer on a property that’s hasn’t been inspected in daylight, you’ll need to plan ahead and batch all your visits on weekends. Have a property alert in place and make sure you’ve done your market research during the week, to avoid delays on your offer when you find your dream home.
Don’t be put off by snowstorms
The reward can be high for braving a storm and showing up to new listings in bad weather. You’ll face less competition and the cards will be on your table to put in an offer before everyone else gets a chance to visit. Dress warmly to ensure you’ll be able to properly inspect the facade as well as the interior!
Seize the opportunity to assess:
- The heating system of the home – Are the bedrooms and bathrooms much colder than the rest of the home? Is it chilly close to the windows? Is the whole home cold? Drafts and cold spots can point to a badly designed HVAC system or to poorly insulated walls, floors or windows.
- If buying a condo, check the common areas and communal yard to ensure that these spaces are properly maintained during the winter months. Warning signs include black ice or accumulations of snow at the front entrance, muddy elevators, and insufficiently heated indoor garages.
- Check for icicles on the gutters. Icicles can be a sign of ice damming, which can lead to expensive water infiltration inside the home.
- If buying a single family home, inspect the attic. The presence of frost, rusty nail heads or mildew under the roof beam indicates a problem.
- Check the flow of hot water in the kitchen and bathroom.
Buying in the winter can give you an edge over other buyers, which presents interesting opportunities for first time buyers on a budget, or investors searching under market value. Just be sure to dress warmly, travel safely, and keep our tips in mind!