Why Fall Is the Best Time To Buy a House

Real estate for sale sign in residential neighborhood, New Jersey, USA.
SondraP / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Following a two-year whirlwind that saw homes flying off the market amid rock-bottom mortgage rates, the housing market is finally starting to cool down a bit, and inventory is growing. This is chiefly because mortgage rates have gone back up, and because inflation is crushing so many would-be buyers. 

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It all makes for a rather confusing situation that may have hopeful homeowners asking themselves, “So should I buy a house now or wait?” The answer is to wait — but not for too long. Fall (especially late fall) is the best time to buy a house. Here’s why. 

The Pressure Is on for Sellers 

“One of the main reasons why fall is a great time to buy a house is that sellers often have an increased urgency to sell after the summer months come to an end,” said James Nicol, director at Stanford Estates. “Just as you don’t want to be in the middle of a move in the depths of winter, neither do the sellers. More motivated sellers are significantly more likely to want the process to run smoothly and timely.” 

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Less Competition 

“Fall also brings a less saturated market of buyers, as those looking to purchase a new home with children will often be dissuaded during term time,” Nicol said. “Not wanting to disrupt the education of their children, many parents will wait until the spring or summer break before resuming their property search. With less people looking to buy a house, there are less people who can swoop in and buy your perfect home before you have the chance.”

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It’s Semi-Offseason 

“Most sellers put their homes on the market during springtime,” said Neil Dempsey, CEO of Four19properties. “This is because buyers want to move in during the summer vacations. In fall, you’ll find many houses that didn’t sell over the summer.” 

Lower Pricing 

“With increased urgency to sell comes less strict pricing,” Nicol said. “This buzz to complete a move before the holidays means the price that sellers are willing to accept becomes lower and lower. This means you could find your dream home and pay significantly under the odds for it. The house is the same as it was in the summer months; but, by buying in fall, you can knock a tidy sum off the asking price.”  

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Easier Buying Process

“Buying a home in the fall provides a better homebuying experience due to the reduced volume of ongoing home sales,” said Chuck Vander Stelt, a real estate broker who runs the website Quadwalls.com. “Your home purchase will include many third parties like real estate agents, a lender, inspectors, a title company, insurer, and possibly even an attorney or moving company.

“As volume falls, all of these professionals will have more time to provide you with a better customer experience.  The metaphor here is would you rather travel through an airport on Thanksgiving weekend or on a random Tuesday in October when there is nothing going on?” 

The Best Time for Bargain Hunters

“Mid-November to Christmas day is the best time of year to be making offers on homes,” Stelt said. “Regardless of the market, rates or anything else, November 15 to December 25 is when you should be making offers. The market is dead. Winter is slow, but mid-November to December is dead. You could find some really anxious sellers at this time.  But, don’t delay. Online search traffic for homes sales begins increasing the day after Christmas. It’s kind of uncanny to see it happen every year because it is so predictable.”

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Agents and Lenders Have More Time for You 

“Agents and lenders are usually less busy during the offseason and can dedicate more time to the handful of clients they work with during the fall,” said Allyson Waddell, an agent success manager and content producer at RealtyHop. “A buyer in the fall may receive more attention and time from their agent, allowing them to view more properties, ask more questions and overall receive responses promptly. Lenders can process paperwork quickly, helping close the deal efficiently.”

Cooperative (and Revealing) Weather 

“Another advantage of buying a home in the fall is that the weather is usually more cooperative than it is in other seasons,” said Ashley Chambers, a real estate investor and the marketing director of ASAP Cash Offer. “The cooler temperatures make it easier to spot any potential problems with the property, such as leaks or drafts. Plus, fall foliage can provide a beautiful backdrop for open houses.”

More Realistic Photos 

“When shopping for a home in the fall season, you tend to get a better idea of how the home and surrounding area will look like for the majority of the year,” said Jason Gelios, a Realtor with Community Choice Realty in Southeast Michigan. “Photos of a property almost always look better in the spring and summer months.” 

Inflation 

“Rampant inflation is making it difficult for homeowners living on a fixed income to cover their basic monthly bills,” said Ismael Arjune, principal investor at Tristate Holdings 167, Inc. “Homeowners may have to sell their house at a price lower than the current market value so that it sells quickly in order to infuse liquid cash to help maintain their basic standard of living.”   

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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