Spring is certainly the busiest time of year for most real estate markets. As the weather warms up, many put their homes up for sale and even more consider buying, casually strolling from one open house to the next on a sunny afternoon. Those seeking a bargain, however, know to look during the winter. While there may be fewer homes on the market during this time, there are also fewer buyers, and less competition means lower prices.

Here are three reasons why it's smart to buy a home in the winter. 

1. Good Deals 

In its 2020 analysis of the best days of the year to buy a home, Attom Data Solutions found that December and January hold the best deals for homebuyers willing to brave the cold. Specifically, the best days to close are December 4th and January 26th. The study found that buyers closing on these dates paid exactly market value for their homes, as opposed to the above-market prices you'll see in the spring and summer. 

The reason for these bargains is that demand is lower in the colder months when it doesn’t make sense for many people to move. Which brings us to our next reason ...

2. Less Competition 

Sellers know that listing their property in the winter is not ideal due to the shortage of buyers, so when they do put a home up for sale, it’s often because they don’t have much choice. Perhaps the owner got a new job in a different city or maybe the house was inherited and the family doesn’t want to pay for upkeep until the market gets better. Whatever the reason, the buyer usually has the advantage during the off-season, when the seller isn’t likely to receive a lot of offers. Homes are priced to sell and homebuyers can get a lot of bang for their buck. 

If you can brave the elements, you’ll find out how the house fares during the year’s more extreme conditions. 

3. Last-Minute Tax Benefits

Closing on a home toward the very end of the year means homeowners will be eligible for the homestead tax exemption for that same year. So, if you were planning to buy anyway, it makes sense to make it happen before the New Year, when you'll have to wait another year to reap the tax benefits. 

4. Things Happen Faster 

Realtors, banks, and title companies tend to be less busy during the winter. With more availability, these professionals can meet with the buyer sooner to answer questions, set up inspections, and close on the house. Sellers motivated to list their property in the winter may also be easier to negotiate with, allowing for a smoother transaction all around. This all adds up to a homebuying process that might be shorter than usual (but be sure to note when these offices may be closed for the holidays). 

5. Winter is Revealing

Aside from price, another advantage of looking for a home in the winter is that you know how the home fares in more extreme weather. If you can brave the elements, you’ll find out how the house fares during the year’s more extreme conditions. 

You might step inside and notice a draft that you might otherwise miss if you were checking out the home during the summer. Energy-efficient windows and insulation are more important now than any other time of the year and heating costs could be high in their absence. You may also be able to spot excessive buildup of snow and ice on the roof or gutters.

And also, because it's important to find your perfect neighborhood as well as your home, winter will give you an idea of how your commute or regular errands might be from the neighborhood when snow and ice hit.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, you should look for a home as soon as you are ready. The right home for you could hit the market at any time of year, and the savings you might enjoy from buying in the off-season might be negligible compared to the satisfaction you’ll feel in a house that you love. However, if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for by the end of fall, you should certainly ramp up your search as the market and weather cools off.

Ready to find your next home and neighborhood? Get started today.