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  • Frank Tadych

Why buying in Winter can make cents

Winter can actually be an opportune time to buy a home. And that's not just a ploy by real estate agents looking to stay busy during the slowest time of the year.

A number of market factors that typically favor home sellers -- from competing buyers to eager lenders -- often reverse course during the winter months and can prove to be an advantage to buyers.

Let's take a look at some of the factors as to why buying a home in Winter can actually buy you some leverage:

Facing less competition. There are fewer homes on market in California during the winter, which means limited supply, but also fewer buyers. That creates less competition for your offer and translates into fewer bidding wars, a reduced likelihood of multiple counter-offers and sellers who will listen to any reasonable offer.

Finding out what motivates sellers. A property on the market in December could be the result of it not selling during the fall months, or owners who are being forced to sell for other reasons. That makes for serious and motivated sellers, who might be more willing to negotiate.

Lean month for lenders. With fewer real estate transactions and loans in the pipeline, it's a good time to lean on your lender for incentives and reductions in origination fees to build an ideal mortgage. The turnaround time on underwriting might also be quicker, allowing you to offer a quicker closing date.

The market cycles. Due to a number of economic and even social factors, most real estate markets will fluctuate during the course of a calendar year. What holds predictable, however, is that home prices are generally higher in the summer than the winter.

Work with your preferred vendors. The right timing of the calendar means you should get access to your preferred team of home inspectors as well as contractors, electricians and plumbers if you choose to have some work done before moving in.

You are the priority. December is the slowest month of the year throughout the real estate industry, and that likely includes your agent, lender and escrow officer. Fewer clients in the mix makes you their priority, which can help minimize any unexpected delays.

Claim those year-end tax benefits. There are a number of tax benefits enjoyed by homeowners, and those deductions can create huge advantages. If you close before December 31, you can claim those deductions now without having to wait a full fiscal year.

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