Ranking the Best (and Worst) Times of Year To Buy a Home

Shot of a family of four viewing their new home together.
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Today’s competitive, and pricey, housing market has every potential buyer wondering when they can start shopping for their dream home.

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GOBankingRates spoke to several real estate professionals throughout the United States to determine the best — and worst — times of the year to shop for a home. Let’s see what they think.

Best Time To Purchase

May Through August

The homebuying season is at its hottest during summertime. Beatrice de Jong, consumer trends expert at Opendoor, said several factors make the months of May, June, July and August popular with potential buyers. Kids are out of school for summer break and families looking to move will likely make the commitment to purchase a home and move in before the start of the new school year. 

“With this in mind, housing inventory is typically at its highest during this time of year, making it an extremely competitive time to buy,” said de Jong.

If you can’t quite buy a home during the summer months, Sue LaGree, licensed realtor with RE/MAX, recommends using these months to start shopping for a home.

“Many other house hunters are in ‘vacation mode’ and are busy dealing with kids home from school and planning and going on vacation,” said LaGree. In states like Florida where the housing market is always hot, LaGree said there are fewer people around to house hunt.

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“All of the snowbirds have returned to their Northern homes and won’t come back until early winter,” said LaGree. “This can be a great time to find and purchase a home.”

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Early Fall

If you’re seeking a season where there’s less competition from other buyers and better pricing, Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com, recommends shopping in early fall.

“We generally find the sweet spot is in early fall, when many buyers have either found a home or bowed out of the market for the year so competition and price gains tend to be a bit less intense, but sellers are still trying to get homes sold before the end of the year,” said Hale.

Carolyn Gagnon, licensed real estate salesperson with Compass, also recommends early fall to potential buyers.

“During this time, there is plenty of inventory, but homeowners may be more willing to have more substantial price reductions with seasonal changes and factors such as the upcoming winter months where sellers tend to get nervous about buyers going into hibernation,” said Gagnon.

January Through March

Fortune often favors the bold, including potential buyers willing to brave cold temperatures and face lower inventory when shopping in January, February and March. If it’s possible, consider purchasing a new home within the first few weeks of the New Year.

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“Q1 is a great time to consider purchasing as most folks who had plans to be in their new homes by New Year’s are off the market and you’re not competing with families who are looking to settle in before the school year begins,” said de Jong. “This time of year will allow you to find homes at a great value while minimizing the competitive edge of the homebuying process.”

Worst Time To Purchase 

End-of-Year/November and December

Avoid shopping for or purchasing a home during the November and December months. While potential buyers may have expectations that others are too busy with holiday festivities, LaGree said the reality is there are lots of investors that need to purchase property by year’s end to fulfill tax requirements. 

“If you are house hunting during this time, be prepared to see houses get scooped up quickly and paid for with cash,” said LaGree.

It’s also stressful to rush into buying a home at the end of the year.

“During this time, many homebuyers are in a rush to close on a home by the end of the year, so they can christen their new homes with family celebrations and holiday festivities,” said de Jong. “Shopping during this time might be more stressful because of holiday and end-of-year timelines.”

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Buyers: Consider These Key Housing Market Factors

While Hale said the housing market shows some signs of shifting in a buyer-friendly direction, it still remains quite competitive and expensive especially when considering the impact of higher mortgage rates on the financing cost. Buyers must be able to understand the conditions so that they can set expectations appropriately to navigate the current housing market.

Similar to stock market timing, this is impossible to do perfectly so don’t sweat the small stuff. Hale recommends buyers consider their priorities. This includes thinking about why you’re buying, what you’re looking for in a home, what you must have, what you can live without and how long you expect to live in this home.

Focus on your big picture priorities, and you’ll make a good decision.

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About the Author

Heather Taylor is a senior finance writer for GOBankingRates. She is also the head writer and brand mascot enthusiast for PopIcon, Advertising Week’s blog dedicated to brand mascots. She has been published on HelloGiggles, Business Insider, The Story Exchange, Brit + Co, Thrive Global, and more media outlets. 

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