I recently met with a couple about selling their home and buying another. Being seniors, they wanted to down size. With Christmas less than three weeks away, they wanted to know if December was a good month to buy or sell real estate. I answered, “it depends on what you are buying or selling and the location.” I went on to explain that it wasn’t so much the month but the economy and type of property you are buying or selling.
Depending on where you live, real estate could be alive and well, yet, in some parts of the country it is still struggling to recover from the 2008-09 recession. With the Feds talking about the possibility of an interest rate increase this month, this could slow things down in areas where real estate has been doing well.
Many realtors will say that the spring is the best time of the year to buy and December is the worst. In the spring, there appears to be more buyers as people come out of hibernation from the winter freeze. And of course, there’s more competition. The potential for bidding wars can be greater during the busy spring and summer seasons so you may not be able to get the bargain you were hoping for. This is great for the seller but not for the buyer.
In the winter months, like December, there is less competition. With fewer people looking for houses, potential buyers are treated with tender loving care. When buying, it may be easier to land a better deal in the cold months, assuming the home is not under four feet of snow, hiding some defects. Winter is great for the buyer but not the seller.
For the buyer, winter is prime time to negotiate. Winter sellers are typically more motivated, thus more willing to make a deal. Since there are fewer buyers, sellers may be more inclined to entertain lower offers or pay for needed repairs. Lenders may also be willing to negotiate closing costs to win business from a smaller buyer pool.
On the other hand, can a seller sell in the winter and still get a reasonable price for the home? Yes, if he or she is patient and the home is in pristine shape so a potential buyer has nothing to object to but the price. However, there are many variables to consider in this answer.
If you live in an area where snow is on the ground six months out of the year and road travel is limited, this will limit the amount of traffic. A good comparison would be like trying to sell a home in Buffalo, NY in December with snow on the ground versus selling one in sunny Jacksonville, Florida, cold but no snow on the ground in December.
Need to sell or buy a home during the winter? Give us a call at 252-257-4822 and let’s discuss it. You will be glad you did.