What Is the Best Time of Year to Buy a House?

Find out how the different seasons affect the homebuying process.

By Emily Southey | 10 minute read

Sep 1

You might think that the best time of year to buy a house is whenever you want to buy one. But the reality is that seasonality matters, and the time of year you choose to buy a house can have a direct impact on listing prices, available inventory, and more. In this article, we explore the pros and cons of buying a house in each season.

The Busiest Real Estate Months

The busiest months in the real estate industry are typically May through July. In contrast, the slowest months of the year for real estate sales tend to be between October and February. Generally speaking, fall and winter are slower compared to spring and summer. While the slower pace and lack of competition that defines the off-season may appeal to you, buying a house during these months may mean there is less inventory on the market, giving you fewer options to choose from.

The Best and Worst Times of Year to Buy a House

Is it better to buy a home in the spring than in the fall? The reality is that there are advantages and disadvantages to buying a home in every season. Therefore, the answer to the question “What is the best time of year to buy a house?” largely depends on your personal goals and preferences. We outline the pros and cons of entering the housing market during each season below.

“The busiest months in the real estate industry are typically May through July. In contrast, the slowest months of the year for real estate sales tend to be between October and February.”

The Winter Housing Market

Winter tends to be the least expensive time of year to purchase a home in Canada. There are fewer buyers at this time, which may give you leverage to negotiate a good deal. Plus, sellers who list their homes during the winter are often motivated to sell their properties quickly. The reality is that because this time of year is so slow, many people suspend their listings leading up to the holidays in November and December. So if a seller chooses to keep their listing active, they probably hope to sell their home as soon as possible. To do so, they may even be willing to accept a lower price or throw in extra perks, such as kitchen appliances. Plus, if you find a home during this period, chances are the closing process will be faster as lenders are processing fewer applications during this time, and realtors and home inspectors have more availability. 

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Beyond a lower purchase price on a home, buyers who choose to take advantage of the winter housing market may enjoy other savings as well. For example, realtors who want to ensure they continue earning money in the off-season may be willing to take a cut on their commission or closing costs to secure your business. 

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Although the lack of competition, potential for cost savings, and increased availability of professionals are three major advantages to buying a house in the winter, there are some disadvantages. One main con is that, while prices are cheaper, inventory can be extremely limited. So if you have a specific set of criteria in mind, you may not find it if you choose to house hunt in the winter. On the other hand, if you are flexible and can keep an open mind, you might find exactly what you’re looking for. 

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Another drawback of house hunting in the winter is that with fewer buyers come fewer open houses. This means scheduling a specific appointment for every home you want to see. Of course, depending on where in Canada you live, this will likely mean house hunting in inclement weather. Homes generally look most attractive in the spring or summer and least attractive in the winter, when plants are dead, light is minimal, and the exterior of the home is covered in snow, ice, and slush. Therefore, if you choose to buy a home in the winter, you need to be able to look past the exterior and visualize the home in the warmer months. 

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It’s also worth noting that winter weather can interfere with home inspections. For example, a professional home inspector may have trouble determining the condition of the roof if it’s covered in snow and ice, or may not have the chance to test the air-conditioning unit due to the cold weather.

The Spring Real Estate Market

Spring is generally one of the hottest months for the real estate market. The school year coming to a close coupled with the warm weather and flower-filled esthetic tend to attract both buyers and sellers. A busier market comes with a mix of perks and drawbacks. While choices abound, so does competition, which can lead to bidding wars driving prices up. 

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The reality is that people like shopping for homes in warmer weather. Similarly, sellers want to showcase their properties in the best light, and that is often spring and summer when the grass is green and flowers are in bloom. However, since winter is the least busy season for real estate, spring is typically defined by pent-up demand. Sellers and buyers who chose to take a beat during the winter months are ready to jump back into the market come spring. It’s this environment that breeds competition, which can make it challenging to purchase a home. 

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Another reason the spring is so competitive is that families want to get settled in a new home in the time between when one school year ends and the next one begins. Ultimately, if you choose to buy a home in the spring, you should have lots of options. However, you must also prepare to pay top dollar and move quickly if you find your dream home.

The Summer Housing Market

Like spring, summer represents another busy season for the housing market. It’s warm and sunny, trees are covered in leaves, the grass is green, and school is out, all of which make it an ideal time to shop for a new home. However, as with spring, these conditions breed competition, especially in the early months of the summer. Again, most families want to buy and move into their new homes before the school year starts. So if you’re shopping in July, there is likely going to be a lot of competition. However, if you can hold off until the end of the summer (mid to late August), you may be able to find a better deal. The market slows considerably as you get into late August. Sellers are more likely to lower prices. However, you should always consider (or ask your realtor) why a certain home that’s been on the market all summer hasn’t sold. While it could be as simple as another buyer backing out, it could also indicate a problem. 

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Given the high level of competition during the spring and summer months, buyers should be prepared to make a strong offer. Your realtor can advise you on what a strong offer entails, but in a hot market, it’s usually more than a high price. It might be a cash offer, a fast closing date, and/or avoiding certain conditions or contingencies. Ultimately, you should do anything you can to make your offer more attractive in a hot real estate market.

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The Spring Real Estate Market

Spring is generally one of the hottest months for the real estate market. The school year coming to a close coupled with the warm weather and flower-filled esthetic tend to attract both buyers and sellers. A busier market comes with a mix of perks and drawbacks. While choices abound, so does competition, which can lead to bidding wars driving prices up. 

 –

The reality is that people like shopping for homes in warmer weather. Similarly, sellers want to showcase their properties in the best light, and that is often spring and summer when the grass is green and flowers are in bloom. However, since winter is the least busy season for real estate, spring is typically defined by pent-up demand. Sellers and buyers who chose to take a beat during the winter months are ready to jump back into the market come spring. It’s this environment that breeds competition, which can make it challenging to purchase a home. 

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Another reason the spring is so competitive is that families want to get settled in a new home in the time between when one school year ends and the next one begins. Ultimately, if you choose to buy a home in the spring, you should have lots of options. However, you must also prepare to pay top dollar and move quickly if you find your dream home.

The Summer Housing Market

Like spring, summer represents another busy season for the housing market. It’s warm and sunny, trees are covered in leaves, the grass is green, and school is out, all of which make it an ideal time to shop for a new home. However, as with spring, these conditions breed competition, especially in the early months of the summer. Again, most families want to buy and move into their new homes before the school year starts. So if you’re shopping in July, there is likely going to be a lot of competition. However, if you can hold off until the end of the summer (mid to late August), you may be able to find a better deal. The market slows considerably as you get into late August. Sellers are more likely to lower prices. However, you should always consider (or ask your realtor) why a certain home that’s been on the market all summer hasn’t sold. While it could be as simple as another buyer backing out, it could also indicate a problem. 

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Given the high level of competition during the spring and summer months, buyers should be prepared to make a strong offer. Your realtor can advise you on what a strong offer entails, but in a hot market, it’s usually more than a high price. It might be a cash offer, a fast closing date, and/or avoiding certain conditions or contingencies. Ultimately, you should do anything you can to make your offer more attractive in a hot real estate market.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Month Do the Most Houses Go Up for Sale?

Spring is typically the season when most houses go up for sale, between March and May.

Should I Buy a Home When Demand Is Low?

Buying a home when demand is low and supply is high is what’s known as a buyer’s market. This is generally the most advantageous market for a buyer to purchase a home because listing prices are lower and buyers have more power in negotiations. For example, when demand is low, such as during the fall or winter months, sellers might be desperate to make a sale, lowering their prices and agreeing to throw in extra perks, such as kitchen appliances or window treatments.

Why Is Real Estate Seasonal?

Seasonality is one factor that impacts the real estate market because housing supply and demand are closely tied to the seasons. The patterns of buyers and sellers relate to the season. Sellers want to showcase their properties in the best light, which tends to be in the spring and summer when the grass is green, flowers are in bloom, and there is lots of natural light. Similarly, buyers are more interested in house hunting when the weather is warmer and families want to wait until the end of the school year to relocate.

Is It a Good Time to Buy a House Based on the Economy?

The best time to buy a home is when you are financially and mentally prepared to do so, and when it is convenient for you to do so. That said, some factors can impact the housing market, making it easier or more challenging to purchase a home. One such factor is the economy. Before house hunting, research the current market conditions. The economy can have a direct influence on housing prices, inventory, and current interest rates. To avoid paying more for a mortgage than you have to, look at interest-rate trends to determine whether they are low or high. While it’s impossible to time the market, the current economic state should be factored into your decision of whether to buy a home. If interest rates are at historic highs, waiting until they fall could be a wise decision.

Are There Any Personal Circumstances That Dictate When to Buy a House?

Yes, seasonality is just one factor that determines when you should buy a house. Personal circumstances are another that must be considered. For example, you should only buy a home if you are mentally and financially prepared to do so. Buying a home before you’re financially ready or buying a home you can’t afford can put you at risk of defaulting on your mortgage. Not to mention the stress that such financial woes can bring. Buying a house, even if you have the necessary finances, is a big change mentally. It requires a certain level of responsibility and maturity that renting does not. Therefore, before buying a home, you must consider if you are prepared to be responsible for maintenance, upgrades, renovations, mortgage payments, and more.

What Are the Worst Times to Buy and Why?

The worst time to buy a home depends on your priorities. If cost is the most expensive factor, then buying a home in spring or summer may be the worst time. Competition is highest during these months, which often translates to bidding wars and higher purchase prices. Alternatively, if you have very specific needs and your priority is finding a house that meets these needs, then house hunting in the winter or fall is likely the worst time as there is significantly less inventory on the market, giving you far fewer options.

Emily Southey

Wahi Writer

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