Think Before You Buy in the Winter

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

Every agent, homeowner, and homebuyer seems to have a different opinion on real estate during the coldest months. 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 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


·         You’re picky with 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 5 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):

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.


This doesn’t mean you can’t find the perfect home in the January or a great deal in June, but if you want to play it by the numbers, the data for Arlington over the past 5 years is pretty consistent.