What to Consider When Buying in the Winter
On Tuesday, I wrote about selling a house in the winter, some of the potential difficulties of selling this time of year, and some of the tips I’ve learned over the years to help any winter-time seller. Today, I would like to talk about the other side of that transaction; the winter-time buyer. I find that it can be as difficult for a buyer to find the right house at the right price in the winter as it can be to sell a home at a fair price in the winter, especially here in Michigan.
In the winter, prices are generally suppressed. There are fewer buyers available, many sellers have their homes off the market waiting for spring, and those who are selling are doing so out of necessity, making them easier to negotiate with. So when you find a house you like, you can often get it for 5-10% less than you might in the spring. Especially with the dramatic rise in home values we’ve seen over the last few year, on a year-over-year basis.
Unfortunately, with less inventory it can also be harder to find the right house for you. And to make matters worse, houses don’t show well in the winter. So a perfect house may look terrible with a snow covered roof and a foot of snow on the walkways. This is a where a good Realtor earns every penny of his or her commission. He or she will help you to see your stuff in the home, help you to see what a properly maintained house could look like, and will show you the important external features that are covered by snow.
So if you are looking to buy a house right now, your first step is to get a preapproval letter from a qualified mortgage professional. With that in hand, you need to find the right house by looking past the dreariness of the season and the snow. Then, negotiate hard! Get the best deal you can, and sit back and watch the equity (hopefully) build in your home.
If you are in the market for a house this winter, or anytime, please feel free to contact me for advice or a preapproval letter. If you have anything else to consider when buying a house, please leave a comment.