When Is the Best Time to Buy a House?

Buying a new home is exciting, whether you’re a first-timer or are relocating, up-sizing, or downsizing. Buying a home is not only exciting, it’s also one of the largest purchases you’ll ever make, so it’s important to ensure that you’re getting the best deal possible. The key to saving money on the home of your dreams is knowing the best time to buy a house. The months of the buying calendar are not all equal, which means by properly analyzing the best and worst times of the year to buy a home, you’ll know when to buy and gain a leg up on the market.

When Should You Buy a House?

Determining when to buy a house is not as simple as it might seem. If the price was all that mattered, some simple data calculations and financial projecting could pinpoint the ideal time to buy. Ultimately, though, the equation includes a lot more than the price of the home you’re interested in. The best time to buy a house depends on several other factors, too, including what your individual needs are, where you’re looking to move and why you’re moving.

Deciding when to buy a house is as much about the market conditions as it is about your personal situation, needs and wants.

Is There a Best Month to Buy a House?

Studies show that the biggest deals on homes can be found during the month of December, according to a study by Attom Data, a major U.S. property data company. While you might think this means you should start shopping in December, you have to realize that the data is based on closing sales. This means that the buyers scoring these deals started their search around late October and submitted offers from mid to late November. Most prospective home buyers are thinking about the holidays during this season and not about a major life move, so it can create a demand gap favorable to your wallet.

Deciding when to buy a house is also heavily dependent on the area in which you are looking to purchase. While there are broadly sweeping trends across the industry, individual real estate markets often act independently. Take Florida, for example. It’s a market that attracts buyers who are often looking for fun in the sun or a breakaway from a colder climate. Because of this, pricing is much higher during the warmer months and deals can be found during the colder winter months. Determining the best month to buy a house depends largely on where you’re looking to buy.

According to Matt Garder, head of Team Roar brokered by eXp Realty, targeting is key.

“When purchasing a home, knowing the local market and that traditionally houses are cheaper in the fall or winter is useful information. However, the most important thing is getting the best deal on your specific target property,” Garder said. “Ideally you have a real estate professional on your side that is willing to be creative and think outside the box to save you the most money.”

The Best Time to Buy

Those looking to save the most money should start their search when demand is lower in late October, and should look to close in December or January for the biggest savings. Those looking for the greatest selection to choose from should start house-hunting from May through August, a time when there have historically been the largest influx of new listings. During this time, though, prices also tend to trend higher and homes spend a much shorter time on the market. Supply generally increases during this time, but demand increases at a faster rate, too.

If you’re not pressed for time, you can determine what you’d like to spend and what you’re looking for and monitor the market year-round for the perfect fit. If you end up buying and find out later you might have saved a little by waiting, that’s all right. You got the house you wanted for a price you were comfortable paying. Hindsight is 20/20.

The Worst Time to Buy

If you’re a price-conscious buyer, the worst time of year to buy a house is from April to June, generally speaking. Homes spend less time on the market during these months, and homes have also historically sold for higher rates during this time span. In other words, you’ll have to act faster and spend more to make a purchase.

For selection-conscious buyers, the end of the year and winter months might be the worst time to buy. A limited selection will leave you wanting more, and you could find yourself trying to decide which sub par option is best for you. That said, many buyers have found their dream homes in the winter months and often at a great bargain.

Tips for Buying a Home at the Right Time

Research the market in the area you are looking to buy. General tips and tricks will always take a backseat to market-specific conditions.

Watch pricing trends in the market as soon as you know you’re interested in purchasing. The more educated you are on how the market works in your area, the more equipped you will be to identify the best time to buy a house.

Don’t miss out on your dream home for a few dollars in savings. You should always try your best to get the greatest deal possible, but if you try too hard to wait for the ideal time to purchase, someone less patient may swoop in and scoop up your dream property.

You can never know with 100% certainty what the market is going to do. Don’t get upset if you end up making a purchase and later determine you would have saved by waiting. Someone else may have picked up the property while you were waiting for the perfect deal and caused you to lose altogether.

The Bottom Line

The best time to buy a house is determined by what you really want in a home, so it’s a good idea to identify your purchase goals as soon as possible. Know what you’d like to spend, the maximum you’re willing to spend and what you must have in a home. Learn the nuances of your specific housing market. The more you know what your ideal house looks like — and the market-specific conditions in the area where you’re looking — the easier it will be to find your dream home, regardless of what month it is.