Buy a house in January? Yup!
I know my admonition flies in the face of conventional wisdom. After all, spring and summer are the busiest times for real estate. More homes are listed. Yards and gardens look great. You don't have to wade through snowdrifts or get soaked in winter rainstorms.
Those things are true. And that's part of my point. If you wait until spring and summer, you'll have more homes to look at. But, you'll also have many more people interested in the same homes you are, regardless of the price point that interests you. You may get so enthralled with a home's beautiful surroundings that you overlook or minimize some of the difficulties with the home itself.
Here are 5 reasons to buy a house in January:
1. Fewer people will be looking, There may be fewer homes to see, but you'll probably be able to look at leisure. You'll have time to inspect nooks and crannies. And, your realtor will probably have at least a bit more time to spend with you.
2. Homes look their worst in winter. By mid-January the Christmas decorations are tucked away. Unless you live in a tropical climate, the yards of the homes you visit will likely be rather brown and limp or covered with snow. If you view homes after work, you'll be seeing a home after dark, under artificial light. It seems counter-intuitive, but these things can be beneficial. If you tour a home in the winter, you see the merits of the home itself, rather than the trappings. That will help you make a wise decision.
3. Winter sellers are generally motivated sellers. Sellers don't usually list their home in January just to give themselves something to do. They have a reason to sell at this time. They may need to relocate due to a work transfer. Their health may be declining, and they simply can't deal with the winter burdens of a home, especially if winter is cold. They may sell to be able to move to warmer climates.
Whatever is driving them, motivated sellers are more apt to be 1) flexible on price, 2) generous on repairs, and 3) willing to close quickly.
4. You're less apt to face a bidding war. Our Greenville, SC market is strong, Average homes sell within 2-3% of their asking price. Bidding wars for reasonably-priced starter homes are common. Homes in the most popular subdivisions or near the best schools regularly receive "highest and best" offers, often selling for more than the asking price. This is great news for sellers, but not what you want if you're buying.
5. Right now, mortgage interest rates are very low. This is due, in part, to a strong economy and short-term interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve in July and September of last year. When 2019 began, many financial gurus predicted that rates would almost-certainly rise. Instead, they dropped as the year progressed, making bank financing easier to obtain. We can't say whether rates will rise or fall in 2020. But, certainly, rates hovering around 4% are surprisingly low, and allow buyers to keep monthly mortgage payments reasonable.
If you're thinking of purchasing a home in 2020, do yourself a favor and start looking now. Contact us to set up a consultation or schedule a showing. Remember, house-hunting in January has perks.