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Ask Eli: Think Before You Buy in the Winter

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Is the winter a good time to buy a home?

Answer: Every agent, homeowner, and homebuyer seems to have a different opinion on real estate during the coldest months of the year. I’d encourage you to read the comments for a range of theories. We’ve all heard that the winter is a bad time to sell a home (not necessarily the case and something I’m happy to address this in another column), so shouldn’t that make it the best time to buy a home? Well, it depends on what type of buyer you are and your motivating factors.

YES, if:

  • You’re a deal-hunter primarily concerned with value and the bottom line
  • You’ve already spent a long time seeing homes and defining your criteria, so you’ll know it’s the right home as soon as you see it

PROBABLY NOT, if:

  • You’re picky and have a very specific and unique set of criteria that would benefit from a higher housing inventory
  • Finding the “perfect” home is more important to you than the bottom line

Check out the trends in Arlington over the past five years:

Chart #1 shows a significant drop in housing supply (average active listings) from late November to mid/late March (Thanksgiving through NCAA Basketball March Madness are two good markers).

Ask Eli Dec. 1 Chart 1

Chart #2 shows that from November to March, buyers usually receive a greater discount from the original list price by a couple more percentage points than the median discounts from April to October. The percentage along the y-axis is the percent of the sales price to the original list price (100% means the buyer paid full price). Note that these numbers do not factor in any seller credits.

Ask Eli Dec. 1 Chart 2

This doesn’t mean you can’t find the perfect home in January or can’t get a great deal in June, but if you want to play it by the numbers, the data for Arlington over the past five years is pretty consistent.

P.S. Please email me your questions, I’m running low!

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send me an email at [email protected]. To quickly read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at http://www.RealtyDCMetro.com.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, 202-518-8781.

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