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As the spring 2023 real estate market begins to blossom, prospective homebuyers are weighing the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a house during this popular season.
“I think one of the biggest pros to purchasing in the spring is that there tends to be more inventory to choose from,” says Amy Cherry Taylor, a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based real estate agent with two decades of experience. As her market shifts toward its spring season, Taylor says she often sees sellers who have deliberately waited through wintertime to put their home on the market. “This especially happens when they’ve done a lot of landscaping or otherwise boosted curb appeal — sellers tend to like to show their home in the spring to really showcase those efforts.”
And it makes sense, doesn’t it? Come spring, chilly temperatures are giving way to warmer days, flowers are beginning to bloom, and enticing shades of green are edging back into foliage. Well-groomed homes look great this time of year, and sellers don’t have to worry about potential buyers traipsing snow and slush through their living rooms.
Of course, it’s not just sellers who wait for springtime to make a move. Buyers are equally motivated this time of year — and that can make things tricky.
There are very real pros and cons to buying a house in spring, so let’s take a closer look at what it means to enter the real estate market in the season of renewal.
Con: Expect competition and higher prices
“Because so many people do like to shop for homes in the spring, there tends to be more competition,” cautions Taylor. “You can find yourself more likely to get into a multiple offer situation in the springtime, depending on where you live.”
When multiple offers are at play, buyers have less negotiating power.
“If sellers are less likely to negotiate, then you’re going to have less time to make decisions. Potentially you’re going to have to pay more of your closing costs than other times of the year — as just one example. Increased competition brings these types of situations to the plate,” says Taylor.
Aside from limiting your ability to negotiate for the seller to cover a portion (or all) of your closing costs, other scenarios that can arise when buyers are competing for homes include:
- Demand for a faster closing date: Why should a seller wait 60 days for you when the next buyer can close in just 45?
- Less time to get your financing in order: Cash is king when homebuying competition is stiff.
- Fewer opportunities for repair allowances: Do you really need the seller to concede $2,000 so you can replace the carpet in the finished basement?
- A higher sales price: Higher demand and limited inventory can drive up home prices.
Melanie Hartmann, owner of Creo Home Buyers in Maryland, echoes Taylor’s sentiments.
“Spring can be a difficult time to buy, because just as there are more sellers, there are many more buyers, too. This can lead to more offers being submitted and driving up the purchase price of homes.”
While more buyers can offer increased opportunity for sellers to be strategic, two can play this game.
Pro: April showers bring May flowers — and open houses
“If you were to ask anybody in my line of business, they would say that spring is the best time to buy real estate,” says Doug Greene, owner of Signature Properties in Philadelphia.
Greene buys and sells homes throughout the year, and he’s well aware of the advantages that can come with buying a house in the spring. “With warmer temperatures and spring cleaning, we definitely see a lot more inventory and activity hitting the market around the beginning of April. People want to sell their homes before summer hits so they can enjoy the warm weather.”
This means that, for all the extra market activity and open houses, sellers are still motivated to move their homes — especially those who have been waiting through the dreary winter months. But weather is also where buyers can gain an extra advantage as they shop.
“Spring is typically a rainy season, which can magnify any shortcomings or deficiencies with a property,” Greene says. “Water is the number one enemy of a home as it can lead to rot, mold, mildew, and various other types of problems.”
As a buyer, dealing with rain — and the wet shoes and umbrellas that accompany it — may not sound like such a great opportunity. But just as nice spring weather can help a seller better showcase their home, a rainy spring day can better help you evaluate that same house.
“It’s never a bad thing to look for homes after it’s been raining,” says Taylor, who tells her buyer clients that they’re actually lucking out if they’re looking at a house in the rain, “because it can really show you if there are any potential issues you need to be aware of.”
Look for telltale signs like leaks, drips, pooling water, or unexpected condensation that may indicate a problem with water.
It might be a little more challenging depending on how busy the market is, but I think you can find the help you need when you need it. When you’re working with a solid agent, they’re going to have a great network and they’re going to be able to introduce you to the people who you need.
- Amy Cherry Real Estate AgentCloseAmy Cherry Real Estate Agent at Porch & Stable Realty Currently accepting new clients
- Years of Experience 21
- Transactions 1093
- Average Price Point $371k
- Single Family Homes 985
Con: Everyone’s busy when you need them most
The thing with buying a house is that it’s rarely just a matter of handing over a wad of cash and calling it a day. As a homebuyer, you’ll probably need help from a variety of different service providers, such as:
- Mortgage lenders
- Home inspectors
- HVAC inspectors
- Closing attorneys
- Friends and family
Not to mention the experienced real estate agent helping you find your perfect home in the first place! Since springtime is such a busy season in real estate, it’s not uncommon for relevant professionals to have a busy schedule and thus create longer wait times for anxious buyers.
According to Taylor, though, you shouldn’t see this possibility as too big of a roadblock.
“It might be a little more challenging depending on how busy the market is, but I think you can find the help you need when you need it,” she says. “When you’re working with a solid agent, they’re going to have a great network and they’re going to be able to introduce you to the people who you need.”
Agent search tip: HomeLight can connect you with top agents in your selected market. Whether you’re buying or selling, we analyze over 27 million transactions and thousands of reviews to determine which agent is best for you based on your needs.
Pro: You can put your tax refund to work
While tax time isn’t exactly a highlight for many of us, if you’re expecting a refund, this influx of cash can be helpful when buying a house in the springtime.
“Your tax refund could be used toward closing costs, or even put directly toward your purchase,” says Taylor. “Especially in an environment where there’s extra competition, having those extra funds can certainly be an advantage.”
Be sure to talk to your loan officer or your tax advisor (or both) to discuss your options — and what benefits may be available to your homebuying pursuits — if you’re expecting a refund this year.
Con: Kids may still be in school
If you have children involved in public education, buying a house and moving in the spring might mean relocating your family during the school year. However, it typically takes up to 45 days to complete the buying process, so a late spring closing can work to your advantage if you time it right.
Pro: Less weather for schoolchildren
With everything else your children are adjusting to with the move, as spring settles in, they will likely not be standing at the bus stop or walking to school in the freezing cold and snow.
Con: Moving costs may be higher
Moving companies are likely to be busier in the spring, which can mean higher rates. The same may hold true for other services you might need. Like other industries, off-season winter rates often come with a discount. According to move.org, the cheapest time of year to move is from Labor Day in September to April.
Pro: Easier to move in nicer weather
While you may not get the discount rate for a moving truck or movers, springtime is a much easier time to relocate. Nicer weather and clearer roads can reduce the stress of moving, as well as allow you to avoid tracking snow into your newly-purchased home.
Homebuying reasons for the other seasons
We all love a springtime moment, but this doesn’t have to be your priority season to buy a house.
“Fall in our area is a fantastic time to buy,” says Taylor. “Spring may be ‘the best’ time to buy depending on your personal circumstances, but if you have limited funds, if you’re not really going to be able to compete in a highly competitive environment, it may be better — if you’re able to wait — to buy at a different time of year.”
In her Virginia market, Taylor says autumn is a close second to spring. People are back from summer vacations, the leaves are changing, and there’s incentive on both sides — buyer and seller — to get settled before the holidays.
“I think the fall, at least in our area, is the second-best time of the year to look for a house,” she says.
On the other hand, Hartmann argues that winter is a prime time to buy.
“Winter is the most underrated time to buy a home. There are far fewer buyers, so competition may not be quite as high. Inventory will likely be lower in the winter, so you may still have competing offers, but sellers listing their home for sale in the winter may be more motivated to sell and thus may take a lower offer in order to sell quickly,” Hartmann explains.
Greene agrees that winter can be a favorable time for buyers.
“In the late fall and long winter seasons, you can scoop up some of the best deals as a buyer,” he argues. “Everyone has stopped looking by then, and many sellers who are still listed are usually the ones who need — rather than want — to sell.”
Greene says that his homebuying team isn’t shy about making lower offers and negotiating in the winter, feeling that they have more leverage in the absence of other buyers.
“I would argue that any kind of home buyer; whether first-time, investor, or whomever, would fare better during the winter than spring if they can have a little more patience and not be afraid to move on a deal when everyone else has stopped looking.”
Timing tip: If you’re making plans to sell and buy, check out HomeLight’s Best Time to Sell Calculator. This free tool uses housing market data from your area to suggest the best and worst months to sell your home.
Spring, summer, winter, fall: It’s your call
At the end of the day, if you’re ready to buy a home, the calendar should serve only as a reference point — not the final answer on when to pursue the real estate market.
And no matter which time of year you’re shopping for a home, nothing is more important than having an experienced professional at your side. A knowledgeable agent will be able to help you every step of the way, connecting you to their network and making sure you’re getting the best home to match your needs and budget.