I have long used the adage, “spring is the time to sell, fall is the time to buy,” and with a couple of notable exceptions (2009 and 2020), that has held true through my entire 29-year career. Timing your purchase is not always doable, of course, since you have to find the right property to bid on, but aiming for that can be a strategic way to take advantage of market seasonality. As it turns out, the first week of October is historically the best time to buy across the nation—here’s why.
Surprise! Fall and Winter are the Best Time to Buy
If you would have put your money on spring as the best time to buy, well, you’d be wrong. That’s prime selling season, but October is when buyers generally get the best prices on real estate. That’s according to ATTOM Data Solutions and its analysis on over 39 million single-family home and condo sales from 2013 through 2021. Amount spent over a home’s median value during October? An average of 3.3%. That’s compared to a premium of 10.5% in May, the highest of the year.
Seasonally, fall and winter are when you’re more likely to snag the best deals. Home prices tend to weaken over the colder months of the year, when there’s a drop in buying activity. I personally think it’s partly because we are technically animals and like to hunker down in place for the winter. Those in the know can take advantage of less competition and motivated sellers, who may be more willing to negotiate than they would in the spring and summer to get it sold before the true slowdown of the holidays.
The issue is that typically, selection is limited, with fewer homes and new listings coming to market, especially after October. Smart sellers that can afford to do so often wait it out until spring. Another potential drawback for buyers is the weather, especially in markets like Tahoe and Reno, where piles of snow make it tricky to get a real idea of a property’s outdoor space. On the plus side, inspections during the winter will give you a good idea of how well the heating system functions, not to mention the integrity of things like the roof and the structure as a whole. Last winter in the snow range, though some inspections were impossible. Everything is a trade-off.
Ready to Buy?
As we head into autumn, I encourage my buyers to pay more attention. There are fewer sellers, but the ones who are on market are more motivated to make a deal. Plus, here in northern Nevada, we tend to enjoy long, slow autumns, which means favorable conditions for checking out potential properties.
For what it’s worth, the single best days of the year, according to ATTOM, remain November 28, December 5, December 19, December 26 and January 9. I’ve sold multiple properties the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year, which means I rarely book vacations during that time.
The best way to find a property that meets your needs and your budget is to plan ahead. You know the drill: get pre-approved and ideally fully underwritten, do your homework and be prepared to go shopping. It’s true it doesn’t happen every year, but with a couple rare exceptions, the prices sellers get historically go up with the turning of the New Year… something to keep in mind!