I am NOT going to tell you that January is the best time of year to shop for a house, even though there are some good reasons to think it might be:
- January selling prices are generally a lower proportion of the original asking price, often enough to save you $10,000 on a $500,000 house.
- There are fewer house shoppers in January; so less competition
- Houses that sell in winter have been on the market longer, which could be a buyer’s advantage
- In RVA, the number of closed sales in January, 2017 was only 44% of the number in June
Kinda makes potential Buyers want to rush out and put the squeeze on desperate Sellers!
But one could also argue that Sellers are even more desperate in the Fall, if their house has been on the market since May and families with kids have all settled into local schools. I even read one apparently serious article that claimed the best day of the year to buy a new house is Christmas Day because no one else is shopping!
Sure, the average Buyer has a small financial advantage in Winter. But most buyers aren’t the average Buyer, and most houses aren’t the average house. In every season, there are thousands of houses on the market with very diverse characteristics. You see, a house is not a “fungible commodity” — that’s an economic term for a product where any one unit is indistinguishable from any other, like bleached white flour or iodized salt. Rational shopping for a fungible commodity is all about price. Houses are different.
So, I claim that the best time to shop for a house is much more personal — it’s the time when you the Buyer are ready. You’ve got the cash for the downpayment and can qualify for a mortgage. You’re motivated to find a new place. You’re ready to face the fun and challenge of finding that one house that is not just a good value, but also the place that will feel like home to you. There’s a very good chance that, whatever the season, there is at least one such place out there in RVA waiting for you.
If you are ready now, or suspect that you might be, I’d be happy to meet with you to discuss your needs and browse the available offerings together. You can reach me at 804-658-7718 or firstname.lastname@example.org.