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Is buying a home becoming more affordable? See the new "Salary you need to buy a median-priced home in the top 50 metro areas"

Is buying a home becoming more affordable? See the new "Salary you need to buy a median-priced home in the top 50 metro areas"

Buy a Home in the Spring: Pros and Cons

spring-home-exteriorIs spring the best time to buy a home? It may well be. Property prices tend to be lower than in the peak summer season. And you face fewer of the challenges of finding a place and moving than you may encounter during winter months.

Of course, your pick of the season for your next move may be driven by factors over which you have little control. But, if you have the luxury of choosing your timing, spring brings both pros and cons. So let's explore those.

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Prices when buying a home in the spring

Summer is the season when average home prices are at their highest, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). And winter's when they hit rock bottom. You don't need to be Nancy Drew (or Veronica Mars, if you're a bit younger) to deduce that spring and fall are somewhere in between.

And the NAR adds some detail. It reckons that between February and March, home sales usually soar by 34%. And, of course, that has an effect on prices, which typically rise by 3% over that time. But those two trends usually keep up their momentum, and both sales and prices reach their peak in May through August. June sees the highest increase in prices.

Home prices drop with leaves in the fall

If you're planning on timing your next property purchase wholly on price, Realtor magazine reckons the best time to buy a home is in the fall. In 2019, that was the week of September 22, the official start of the season. "Buyers tend to find less competition, more inventory, and the biggest reductions on list price during that week," the publication says, basing its assertion on a three-year study of 53 metro areas.

But you probably shouldn't be basing your home purchasing decisions wholly on that strategy. And we'll soon be exploring some of the other factors that might influence you.

Related: Buying a Home in the Fall

Price fluctuations

But why do home prices go up and down with the seasons? Well, the reasons are mostly practical. Demand drops as winter sets it. In many states, it can be difficult to travel around to view homes. And, once you get there, they often look drab and dreary against gray skies and monochrome yards.

Add to that the nightmare of house hunting (and selling!) over the holiday season, and there are simply fewer buyers around. Sellers know that, so they try to avoid listing unless they absolutely have to. Obviously, few buyers and desperate sellers add up to lower prices.

Negotiating a purchase in springtime

Spring transforms those bleak landscapes - both the actual landscape and the housing market. Sellers flock to list and buyers begin their searches. Some purchasers find bargains among old listings that have been sadly hibernating for the previous few months. Others are excited by the fresh, new listings.

Typically, the rising demand created by a flood of new buyers outstrips the increase in the supply ("inventory") of available homes. So prices move up.

When you buy a home in the spring, you may find you have more leverage than you would in the summer peak season. But, compared to winter, be prepared to pay more for the extra choice you should have. Things like paying over the asking price and bidding wars become more common at this time of year.

Related: Buying a Home in the Summer

Other pros and cons when you're buying a home in the spring

When you buy a home in winter, you're likely to see instantly if you're faced with a leaky roof, inadequate heating, poor insulation or drafty windows. When you buy in summer, problems with air conditioning and a pool may be similarly exposed.

But, in many states, spring and fall are times homes are under the least strain. So those natural stress tests often are simply not there. It may be a good time to call in a home inspector.

Pros & Cons Of Buying Home in Spring

ProsCons
Your kids won't be battling the weather when they start at their new schoolsThey're still going to be moving partway through the school year
Lots of exciting new listings and open housesWho has time to see them all?
Open houses are fun and you might make friendsThose friends are probably homebuyers, too. They're competing with you
Your moving truck won't get stuck in a snowdriftYour moving company's rates are likely to be higher than during its off-season winter period
The people who will help with your purchase (real estate agent, loan officer, home appraiser and home inspector ...) will be less busy than during the peak summer seasonThey're busier than in winter

But how much does this stuff matter? Bottom line, your goal is to find a home you love at a price you can afford. And that's the same year-round.

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