House-Hunting in the Off-Season

Open House SignConventional wisdom: The real estate season ends in August. Reality: House-hunting in the fall and winter comes with some surprising benefits!

It's true that fall and winter bring lower inventory, which means you may not have as many homes to choose from -- but that can be outweighed by the many upsides of off-season house-hunts.

In fact, some buyers prefer house-hunting in the off-season. Here are five reasons why:

  • You can save money. When house-hunting in the fall and winter, you can expect to avoid the 7-10% increase in home prices that you often find in the spring and summer. That means a home listed at $250,000 in November could be listed at $275,000 in May. (We see that 7-10% increase in listing price in the neighborhoods we work in most; depending on where you're looking, the increase in listing price can be higher or lower.)

  • You have a better chance of avoiding the disappointment that comes with homes selling within hours of hitting the MLS, battling multiple offers from competing buyers, and losing out on homes that you're excited about. These trends were rampant for buyers this spring and summer -- it's not only disappointing, but it's time-consuming, stressful, and emotionally draining, as well.

  • You have the benefit of knowing what a home feels like in colder weather -- which is especially important in our Wisconsin climate. Is it drafty? Does it need added insulation or air sealing? Is the thermostat set at 72 degrees, yet it still feels chilly inside? This firsthand knowledge can help you determine what kind of improvements a home might need before you sign on the dotted line.

  • You get a more realistic sense of curb appeal -- there are no spring and summer flowers to distract you from the peeling paint, cracked concrete, and other exterior issues that may need repair.

  • Sometimes, you can be a bit more aggressive in negotiations -- heading into winter, many sellers would rather not pay heating bills and snow removal, especially for a home that's vacant.

So, if you're ready to start a house-hunt but you're worried you should wait until spring, never fear. There are plenty of reasons why a fall or winter house-hunt might be the right fit for you. (Want to know more? Just contact us!)