When do you buy property?

13 Replies

When is your favorite time of year to buy property? 

In Columbus, OH I try to buy in the "off" season or when it's so cold that nobody wants to move. 

From the Columbus MLS there's significant data of a cyclical trend where prices go down from that summer.

As a RE professional in Columbus Oh I can't help but to point my clients in the buying direction during the colder months and the selling direction when it's warm. 

Does this happen in your market? (I would be curious if areas like CA that are warm year round see the same trends.)

Since inventory is up in the Summer months do you try and find deals then? 

Does it matter to you at all?


@Austin Steed , I'm not sure your stats are enough to show causation just a correlation.

Yes, prices may cycle by season, but is it the season that CAUSES the prices to cycle or are other factors causing it. That may not sound important, but it might.

People who have choices in life know warm months are best to sell. Its also the best time for the sellers to find their next home and also the most convenient weather wise and schedule wise (school year) to move. So, people with choices (aka more expensive homes) can wait and do things when its best for them.

So, perhaps prices are lower because less higher priced homes are marketed in the off-season!

It may not be the price of the same home is lower just that lower quality homes are available in the off season where better ones will come on the market in spring.

I like to buy from July to February. April to July tends to be when buyers are looking, properties sell quicker and sellers are less likely to make a deal (though July has been a good buying month for me so go figure). 

Though in my colder weather markets I always get annoyed when I buy during the cold weather months and there's a vacancy as paying the gas bill always makes me roll my eyes in annoyance, despite the fact I bought a good deal. 

I know for a fact some sellers in cold markets factor in the winter weather and gas bills during the winter - they fear a vacant property during the winter and want to sell prior to December. 

In the L.A. market it's been hot enough in my area where people are buying year-round. A house four doors over sold maybe two months ago for above asking and the property next door (a flip) had A LOT of attention and although it's currently contingent I don't know the sell price as of yet (the realtor told me they had three offers when they were still showing it - it's not priced cheap, though the flip was done very well and it's very nice for the neighborhood).

@Austin Steed - While there is some seasonality to most real estate markets, I would just caution that your clients are not purchasing the market, but an individual property. Most of the off season mark downs I see in my market are those that initially had pretty aggressive pricing to begin with, so I'm not so sure they represent a deal more so than a revision closer to market value.

The true deals in real estate are often available due to some kind of distress to the owner, property or both, and that can happen at any time of year.  Divorces, job losses, deaths, etc. know no season.  The two best deals I ever purchased were put under contract during the prime of the selling season in March and April and were the result of burnt out landlords who were looking for quick sales.

As a real estate agent who is primarily working with clients that purchase single family homes to live in, I tell my clients that the best time to buy a property is when they are financially and emotionally ready, and when they find a home that meets their current and projected future needs.

@Kevin Sobilo Yes I completely agree! That was just my opinion of it being warmer why people are moving.. by no means am I trying to prove the correlation in this post. From those stats we just know people are buying RE for less than those who were buying that summer. Again this could be from several factors. 

Also there has been 27,130 sales this year on the Columbus MLS. And from my beginner level stat class when n > 30 you can find a mean. With 27,000 being our n it would be hard for me to say it's just from people on Muirfield (where memorial tournament is palyed) not selling during the winter.

@Karl B. Good points. 

That's fair as in other markets your really don't have to winterize a property. Maybe that process doesn't even exist? 

Here is Columbus the dreaded frozen pipes is a real thing... 

@Mike Roy

Do you ever get the question from a potential seller "when is the best time to sell"? What do you say then?

This is what I'm getting at. 

Like you, I too always put my clients opinion first. I always say you drive the bus I just try to help with directions. 

Appreciate the caution nonetheless!

Simple answer! When you have funds to invest, and the deal is right. You could keep that money on the sideline, but if a nice deals comes along, it would be silly not to buy for the possibility a better deal may come along later. As a buyer, you should come up with a set of guidelines you use to evaluate each deal. What do you expect for a ROI etc. if the guidelines are met, pull the trigger.

@Austin Steed - I do get that question, and there's no doubt that where I'm from in Maine the best time to list is the "spring" market, which can start as early as February and run through Memorial Day.  The second best time is the "fall" market, which begins right after Labor Day and runs as late as Thanksgiving.

As a seller, you ideally want to target the prime selling season, but it's not always possible depending on circumstances.  Some sellers have the luxury of being able to make a life transition and still carry their old home a while in order to launch their listing during Prime Time, but others aren't financially able to and sometime need to list in December. 

However, rather than focus on seasonality with sellers, I try to make sure their home is best positioned for a sale regardless of when we launch.  Often, the way you position and market the home - from inexpensive repairs and strategic upgrades to the quality of listing photos and remarks - will give your sellers more bang for their buck than focusing first on the timing of the listing.  Even in Maine, people are always looking.

@Austin Steed It does not matter to me. I will buy when I have the cash and the deal presents itself. I have enjoyed the slower season because it has given me time to focus on my off-market lead generation.

I like my rentals around March /April because I can rent a cardboard box at that time fast . I like selling my houses owner finance Pretty much anytime but especially around tax time in February .I like buying in bitter cold months because of high bills and property taxes are late by then anything that causes pressure and motivates the sellers . Please note I buy and sell off market so that may not apply

Those who do volume buy every month. There are obvious advantages of the springtime when you live in the north but there are also some advantages of buying going into winter or even the dead of winter. For example banks are more motivated as things start freezing. In Maine many bank owned homes are winterized after they are frozen solid so you can now discount their asking price considerably. There are fewer buyers and sellers in winter which results in lower prices. I find this to be especially true of mobile homes. Many don’t think you can move a home in the winter so deals are more abundant and I still move them.

I learned a lesson many years ago when I did door to door sales to businesses. I sold at 7am on Monday to 5 pm on Friday but many so so sales people had every excuse why you shouldn't approach a business at certain times. Their sales were a fraction of mine. In real estate, there are buyers and sellers 365 days a year. Many people are essentially in a coma from late November until early January when it comes to building their business. It's a great time for getting a jump on the competition.

Like @Ed Emmons Im also in Maine and there are definately pros and cons to all seasons. Im a contractor and do all my own renovations ect and we find that we get better deals on labor in the winter when the building season is slow because contracting work slows down a bit and people are hungry for work.

We just poured a foundation yesterday to build a duplex over the winter to be ready for rent in spring when its easy to rent. We secured a framing crew for about 60% of the cost that that same crew would charge during august or September when work is plentiful.