Consumer Watch: Fall & Winter Homebuying

Spring and summer get the attention and usually, the better weather but there are some advantages to shopping for a home in the fall and winter months.

With children busy in school and the holidays around the corner, the real estate market tends to slow down as the calendar moves toward november and december.

Laura schwartz, a real estate agent in northern Virginia, says inventory in the fall and winter tends to be about half of what it is during the spring and summer months, but there are some advantages to home shopping in real estate's off-season.

"Fall and winter tend to be more of a buyer's market, so buyers have advantages in that usually sellers actually have to sell, so they may be able to get a better price. There's also usually less competition."

Schwartz says most sellers putting a home on the market in the colder weather months have to move out for a specific reason, and may be up against a certain deadline, giving a buyer the upper hand.

The drop in temperatures in the fall and the arrival of snow in winter can provide an important perspective for potential buyers.

"Does the basement flood? Is the roof leaking? Is it sunny at the house, or are there patches of the grass that are still covered in snow three months later? It's a really different vantage point than looking when it's sunny and the trees are full and the flowers are blooming."

And be mindful of scheduling closing dates around the winter holidays, when banks and courts may shut down for a day or two, slowing or halting transactions.


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