Is Winter the Worst Time of Year to Buy a House?

Are you crazy to wanna buy a house in the winter? Is it the worst time of year to buy a house? Shouldn’t you just wait until springtime when there’s more housing inventory on the market? What we’re gonna talk about is why it’s not so crazy to just be sitting inside by the fire sipping on your hot chocolate, but instead, maybe you should be out there house hunting. My name is Eric Sztanyo from Keller Williams Realty and team where we are helping you find your home and strengthen your family and Merry Christmas happy new year we’re in that time of year. Where it’s pitch black, dark outside by five o’clock. And I wanna talk about this question of when is the worst time of the year to buy a house? A lot of people might think that winter time is the worst time of year to buy a house, but there’s a few reasons why that’s not the case and that’s what we’re gonna talk about.

So understand when is the worst time of year to buy a house, there are three things we want to talk about, especially in the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky local market and that is housing inventory, number one. Number two, the amount of buyer competition that’s out there in the wintertime. And number three, the median sales price by month. Let’s dig into all three.

Is Winter the Worst Time of Year to Buy a House?

Understanding The Supply & Demand Of Sold Houses Through Out The Year

Let’s talk about housing inventory first and the amount of houses that are out there on the market and the amount of houses that are actually sold. I wanna show you guys this chart taken from the Cincinnati MLS, covering the four major counties around the Greater Metro Cincinnati area. And what this chart is showing is the amount of units that are sold by month for the last two years. Now, here in Cincinnati, we’re a little bit more in the Midwest and the real estate calendar really kind of goes by the weather and you can see there are dips and there are peaks here in this chart and the dips are always gonna be in January and February. Those are your lowest selling month for houses in the market.

Time of Year to Buy a House- Supply and Demand

2020 was a little bit of a weird year for a lot of reasons. But in 2021 was a little bit more normalized. And we could see here by this dotted green line, is that on average, over the last two years, there’s about 1,758 homes sold every month. When you get into January in 2020, that number was 1047 and then up to 1237 in February. And this year of 2021, that number was 1,212 20 units sold in February of 2021. Compare that to the peak months, which are maybe June and 2021, where we sold 2,280 units, 2200 in August. Same thing back in 2020. The top month was actually July of 2256, right around that 2200. So if you do the math here, you’re roughly down 30% of the average amount of units sold for the year in those colder months of January and February. And likewise, you’re gonna be up about 30% more in sales on average in those peak months of May, June and July.

So what does that mean? Well, number one, obviously it means you can still buy or sell a house in the colder months. In December, January, February. There’s gonna be less houses sold, but you can still get out there and buy a house. Clearly, there’s just gonna be less amount of houses on the market from sellers. And it’s obvious why the houses don’t show as well. It gets dark like immediately after the sun comes up, is what it feels like. But it gets dark probably around 5:00 – 5:30. And so you don’t have all those lovely flowers and greenery around the house, making the house look beautiful on the outside. So a lot of sellers tend to pull back plus it’s it’s the holidays, right? People are like, “I don’t wanna mess with it. We’ll deal with it after the holidays.” So there’s less inventory out there to choose from.

But what does that mean for you as a buyer? That brings us to point number two, which is buyer competition, because while there is less inventory on the market, there’s less sellers wanting to sell in the winter months. There’s also less buyers out there. And so you’re not having to fight as many people, all competing over the same amount of low inventory. In the last few years, we’ve known there’s been historic low inventory. So with buyer competition being down a little bit, that means, that could be a very good thing for you. So when there’s buyer competition, that’s a little bit lower. That’s good. That means there’s not as many of you fighting over the same houses.

Whereas, in the spring and summer months, all the buyers come out especially the families are trying to maybe sell or buy a house while school is out for the year. And so that’s gonna be driving prices a little bit up. So you might be able get a little bit of a discount in those winter months and of January and February. So if you’re willing to put on the cold winter coat and get out there and look at houses in the dark, you might be able to get a deal.

That brings me to the third thing I want to talk to you guys about, which is the median sales price per month. I wanna show you guys this article from fit small And they’re kind of saying the same thing here that the best months to buy home might actually be January and February.

You think about it the opposite. You think those are the worst time of year to buy a house, cuz there’s not a lot of inventory out there. But if you’re only thinking about pricing of the home, the winter months might be a really good fit from this article here says “January and February are typically the least expensive of time to purchase a home. You have the perfect storm where the seller is eager to negotiate. And the pool of buyers is small. I find that the buying process through this period of time also goes smoother and faster. Where many agents, lenders, and inspectors are eager to get the holidays behind them and get back to work.” So might be cheaper. It might even be easier. And so you might wanna consider these winter months, I wanna scroll down here in this chart where it talks about and shows the actual median sales price at closing by month.

Time of the year to buy a house - Home sale data by month

This is from 19 to 20. So the data’s a little bit old here. But if you look here at January and February, January is actually the cheapest month. At $266,200 versus, you know, August, September at $310-$311. That’s a huge swing.

So why is that? Well, it’s kind of the one time a year where you might find houses that were listed in November, December. They didn’t get scooped up right away. So maybe they’re out there now for 30, 60, 90 days. And you’ve got a seller who’s like, “Man, I thought for sure our house was gonna sell fast.” They just want to get it sold. There’s less buyers. They’re getting less showings. That can be a peak opportunity for you to strike as a buyer. If you see something that’s been out there for more than 30 days, again, especially in this market, in those cold winter months when they’re not getting a lot of activity on their house might, be a really good time to buy.

Just to further that point from the article. I wanna read this, this one paragraph about the time of year. “The perceived slower months, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas can also be a great time for a buyer to purchase a home. This is because a seller who is willing to show their home during this holiday time potentially disrupting their celebrations is eager to sell and negotiate. They might also be more willing to take a lower offer seriously, as a buyer who is willing to brave the weather elements like rain and snow is committed to purchasing a home.”

So that exactly what we just said, right? When you’re buying out in the colder winter months, usually you’re more serious, but you can find these sellers potentially who are a little bit more motivated. You can maybe put in an offer that’s a little bit lower and get a deal at this time of year to buy a house.

So when is the worst time of year to buy a house? Probably not the winter months, if you’re just looking at price. If you’re trying to get a deal, then some of those more active months of May, June, July, those might actually be the worst time of year to buy a house because there’s more buyers out there and they’re all pushing up the prices higher on the houses that are out there on the marketing. You might have more to choose from. You might enjoy shopping for houses in the sunshine a little bit more in the warmer weather, but you might also be paying a little bit more.

One last thing to consider is that the Fed. has just announced that they are planning to raise interest rates in 2022. Probably multiple times. So you may wanna consider even more these next few months here before the federal reserve raises interest rates and you’re purchasing power gets devalued a little bit as those interest rates climb in 2022.

Best time of the year to buy a house - Winter

Team Sztanyo! Your Trusted Guide In Buying Or Selling A House.

All right. So those are some tips and at least giving you a feel for what is the housing market like in the Cincinnati area, in these different months? What are the prices like? Ultimately, when is the best time of year to buy a house or sell a house? Depends on you. Depends on your situation. You might not have the opportunity to buy in the winter months. You might be being relocated. Maybe your job is starting in April, May, June. You can’t help it. Maybe you have to move the kids in those summers months and you can’t help it. That’s fine. Ultimately, we believe that your home is where your family grows strong together. And when it is the best or worst time to buy, it’s hard to say. It might just depend on your specific situation, but I wanted to give some information here and maybe do a little myth busting when it comes to the fact, can I buy a house in the winter or not?

The answer is definitely yes. You might even be able to get a better deal because there’s not a lot of other buyer competition out there. So even though there’s not a ton of housing inventory, if you find the right house for your family, it might be a great time to jump on it.

I hope you’ve had a Merry Christmas and heading into 2022. I hope you have a wonderful new year. Thank you so much for reading this far. I’m gonna be doing some more talking about what might be happening in 2022 in the year to come be some predictions about the real estate market, both nationally and here locally in Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky. So stay tuned. Thank you so much. We’ll see you next time. Bye.

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