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Ask Eli: Should I Buy a Home 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: I’ve been gearing up for a home purchase and wondering if the winter is a good time to buy or if I should hit the pause button until spring. What are your thoughts on buying in the winter?

Answer: I love working with buyers in the winter because the chances of negotiating major savings increases substantially. In Northern Virginia, the winter market generally runs from late November through mid March (Thanksgiving to March Madness) and is defined by deeper discounts, less contract activity and fewer new listings. While many buyers can benefit from winter shopping, it’s not the right time for everybody.

Ask Eli Winter is Coming

Negotiate In The Winter If…

  • You’re a bargain hunter
  • What you like is priced just outside of your budget
  • What you like is fairly easy to find
  • You can accept losing on a few deals

Be Patient If…

  • You have specific, hard-to-find criteria
  • You value the perfect home over a great deal
  • Your purchase is contingent on selling your current home (requires additional conversation)

That’s not to say you can’t negotiate a great deal in the spring or find a unique property in the winter, but if you’re playing the odds, the above is a good set of guidelines for deciding the best seasons to focus on a purchase.

I’ll let you review the trends for yourself:

Chart #1 shows that in the winter buyers pay about 2% less, relative to original asking price, than they do in peak months. On a $500,000 purchase, that’s $10,000 in savings! The numbers along the Y-axis represent the percent of the sold price to the original list price (100% means the buyer paid full price). These numbers do not factor in any seller credits.

Median sale to list price ratio

Chart #2 highlights why buyer leverage increases during the winter. It shows the number of homes that go under contract each month and there’s clearly a lot less activity during the winter, meaning sellers are seeing a lot less showings and offers.

New pendings

Chart #3 shows a significant drop in the number of new listings from November to March, meaning you’re less likely to find the perfect home if you have a difficult set of criteria.

New listings

If you’re on the fence about buying this winter or not sure if you have time to prepare yourself to make a purchase, give me a call at (703) 539-2529 or send me an email at [email protected] to discuss your options and put a strategy in place.

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