When is the Best Time to Buy a House?

When is the best time to buy a house? This is a question I am asked with quite a bit of frequency. And the answer really depends on what you’re looking to achieve. Are you looking for the best price? Are you looking for the most inventory from which to choose? Or are you looking for a house that you just can’t live without – your dream house?

Here are some general* guidelines about the pros and cons of home buying at various times of the year:

The Spring Market (generally runs from January/February through late May) – If you’re looking for the most inventory from which to choose, this is it. In our neck of the woods (Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the like), the Spring Market is our strongest, busiest time of the year. The most homes are on the market, the most buyers are looking and the homes are at their highest prices. The upside is that you have more homes from which to choose, the downside is that you are competing with more buyers for homes and you are likely going to pay more. But sometimes you have no control over the timing. If you are relocating to the area or moving from the city, you need to buy a home in time for the start of the new school year in September. This often mandates buying in the Spring Market.

The Summer Months (June, July and August) – The Summer Months can be interesting, and it’s hard to predict how they will be. Often if there’s been a late start to the Spring Market, the Summer Months can be quite active. But generally, it does slow down as people go on vacation, spend time relaxing and set their sights on things other than the real estate market. The good news about this? There is not as much competition from other buyers and prices can be a bit softer. The bad news is that there is usually a slow down of homes coming on the market so there is not as much inventory from which to choose.

The Fall Market (September through mid-late November) – The saying goes like this, “It’s better to sell in the Spring (think higher prices) and buy in the Fall (think lower prices).” That being said, the Fall Market is the second strongest market we have – after the Spring Market. So the good news is that there will be more homes from which to choose and there will be less buyers with which to compete. The buyers of the Fall Market tend to be local buyers; those relocating have generally purchased their homes already. The downside is that prices are higher in the fall than during the Summer Months and the Holidays/Winter – though still not as high as they are in the spring. The Fall Market is the last hoorah – the last formal market of the year – and sellers often raise their home prices accordingly.

The Holidays/Winter (mid-late November through the beginning of the New Year) – If you’re looking for a better price, this is probably the best time for you to buy. Plus you won’t be facing much competition from other buyers. But the downside to this time of the year is that the inventory is typically at its lowest so there is not a huge roster of homes from which to choose. Sellers generally take their homes off the market during this time when the market is slower and people are more focused on preparing for and celebrating the holidays than on buying homes.

On a final note, if you have fallen in love with a house, the strategies above go out the window. Your dream house is available now (whenever that time might happen to be), and if you want it, you need to act. Furthermore, for those of you relocating to the area, you don’t have much control over when to buy either. You need to buy in time to have closed on a home by July or August so that you can register the kids for school and get settled into your new home and community. This usually means one thing – buying in the Spring Market.

What are your thoughts? What time of the year did you buy your last house? And was the time in which you purchased your home something about which you strategized and over which you had control or not? I can’t wait to hear….

For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (www.lisacurlett.com, 781-267-2844 or lisa.curlett@compass.com), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.

* These are general guidelines, and there are always exceptions to the rules and norms.