As of writing this article, I’m looking out the window at some of the Wasatch Front’s first snowfall of the season. As skiers and snowboarders are getting ready for their prime recreation months, the real estate market will begin to take a bit of a break and head into the off-season.

That’s because home sales are typically strongest in the spring and summer months, with June usually having the highest number of home sales for the entire year and January seeing the lowest.

Although more people buy in the spring and summer, it doesn’t mean that’s the ideal time to make a purchase. In fact, for those who are willing to brave the cold, there are some distinct advantages to late fall and winter buying.

One of the biggest advantages is the fact that there are fewer buyers in the marketplace because most people want to buy when the weather is warm and the kids are out of school. For the winter buyer, that means less competition and a better chance of getting a great home at a lower price.

Even in a slower market, the best homes always sell the fastest. If there are fewer buyers, that increases the likelihood of getting one of the top listings. Plus, with fewer competitors, buyers can spend more time shopping and analyzing homes with less worry about someone snatching up their favorite one.

Another benefit is the fact that sellers are typically more motivated in the winter. Because winter isn’t an ideal time to pack up and move, those sellers who do have their homes on the market are typically more serious about getting them sold. Perhaps a job transfer or other personal circumstance requires the homeowner to make a quick sale.

That means a buyer could get a better deal because a seller who is in a crunch may be willing to negotiate more. In fact, statistics from the Utah Association of REALTORS® consistently show that the median price for a home rises in the spring and declines in the winter.

Another advantage is the fact that lenders and other real estate service providers have less business in the colder months, which means winter buyers will likely see faster processing times and a smoother approval process. Plus, consumers are likely to receive better service because companies will have more time to spend with them. According to Bankrate, lenders also might be willing to waive some of their fees during the off-season.

For buyers who are looking to save on their taxes, it may be a good idea to make a purchase before Dec. 31. That’s because home buyers can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes and some of the costs involved in purchasing a home from their income taxes. For example, buyers can deduct the points they paid to get a mortgage.

Viewing homes in the winter also allows the buyer to know how the home will fare during the cold months. A draft may signal a problem with the windows, while a warm home with a thermostat that’s not set too high may indicate that the house has good insulation.

So if you’re thinking about buying a home, consider buying in the coming months. The holiday shopping season isn’t just about getting bargains on gifts; it can also be a perfect time to get a deal on a house. To get started on your winter home-buying search and to learn more about market conditions, make sure to contact a REALTOR®.

By Lerron Little, CRS, GRI
Appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News October 30, 2010