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Is the Holiday Season the Best or Worst Time to Buy a House?

December Homebuying Pros

  • You may end up paying less: Research suggests that home prices tend to fall in the wintertime, which is good news for buyers looking for a bargain. Homes that are still unsold after the summer rush usually get discounted as owners try to clear them out by year’s end. Plus, the holiday spirit may drive some homeowners to accept a lower offer than they ordinarily would.

  • Time off from work means time for house hunting: Rushing through an open house is a bad idea. In December, you may have more time to move slowly and think carefully.

  • Experienced family members may be on hand to give advice: If you’ve never bought a house before, it can be helpful to have visiting family members tour homes with you to give their input.

December Homebuying Cons

  • There are fewer homes available: Why are houses usually cheaper in wintertime? Because most people tend to list their homes in the summer months, and the desirable ones go quickly. This may vary in each individual market, but most homeowners don’t choose to make new listings in December.

  • Agents and brokers may be distracted: If you live in one of California’s many competitive housing markets, minutes can count when it comes to beating out other prospective buyers. December may not be the best month of the year to get fast action from the professionals you’ll work with to close on your new house.

  • Open house availability may be limited: We tend to open our homes to friends and relatives around the holiday season, and that often means less availability for open houses. Don’t worry about this too much, though—Open House Day’s planning tools make it easy to find and map out a day of visiting open houses at any time of year.

Should You Wait or Act Now?

As you can see, there are some things that make winter the best time for home buying and others that could make it the worst. It’s all a matter of perspective and priorities. So does it make more sense to wait to shop or act now? That really depends on your individual situation. It doesn’t necessarily make sense to wait and completely avoid your search for a new home until the seasons change. You could end up finding your ideal home for a great price. If you’re on a tight timeline, it’s especially important to act quickly so you can have as much time and flexibility as possible to search for the right place and make a smart purchase decision.

If you aren’t on a tight timeline, though, don’t feel pressured to buy something that’s over budget or that doesn’t quite meet your needs at this time of year. Waiting just a few months could result in a better find. Winter can be a good time to find a great value on a good house, but there is evidence to indicate that you’ll have more inventory to consider if you wait. Weigh this information against your housing needs to make a decision that works for your family.