Homebuyers may want to time their purchases strategically.
Timing isn’t everything, but it doesn’t hurt either. According to a recent analysis of more than 33 million single family home and condo sales over the past 8 years conducted by ATTOM Data Solutions, a provider of real estate and property data, the best time to close on a house is in October. That’s because the premium — which measures the amount you pay for the house compared to the estimated value of the house — is just 2.9%, which is the lowest of the year. That’s followed closely by November, December and January. (In each month, buyers paid some premium for homes, on average, which ATTOM explains is due to the fact that home prices rose quickly during a lot of the periods analyzed.) As for what day to buy? “The day after Christmas usually offers the biggest price discount as sellers try to woo a smaller pool of homebuyers during the winter months,” says Denny Ceizyk, senior mortgage writer for LendingTree.
Closing in October typically means you got your offer accepted in August or September, explains Holden Lewis, home and mortgage expert at NerdWallet. The reason you get deals then? “The housing market during that late-summer period is like the candy market the day after Halloween. Sellers are unloading products rather than holding out for the best price,” says Lewis. Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, who adds that some home sellers who needed to sell by the end of the summer but who were unsuccessful get desperate as summer comes to a close. “It’s possible that this person may have already bought a home or they could be temporarily renting at another location with the purpose of getting their kids into a new school coinciding with school opening in late August and early September,” says Yun.
Closing in the winter months, which also offer lower premiums on homes, would mean buying now. Cory Hopkins, manager of economists at Zillow, says buying in the fall traditionally offers patient buyers both selection and bargains. “But make no mistake, in this current market, sellers are still in the driver’s seat, regardless of the season. Sellers who list in October may not see the crowds of buyers lining up at their open house like they may have seen in the spring, but they can still expect to get a strong price for their home even if it takes a few more days to sell,” says Hopkins.
2013 to 2020 Sales of Single-Family Homes and Condos
|Month||Number of Sales||Median Sales Price||Median Estimated Value||Premium|
|January||2,068,122||$ 187,500||$ 180,468||3.9%|
|February||1,984,843||$ 187,500||$ 178,000||5.3%|
|March||2,602,885||$ 197,000||$ 185,000||6.5%|
|April||2,730,574||$ 201,286||$ 187,000||7.6%|
|May||3,025,737||$ 209,000||$ 187,374||11.5%|
|June||3,308,640||$ 217,000||$ 199,000||9.0%|
|July||3,325,150||$ 219,000||$ 201,300||8.8%|
|August||3,319,970||$ 216,000||$ 203,000||6.4%|
|September||2,957,165||$ 213,500||$ 201,000||6.2%|
|October||2,995,387||$ 210,000||$ 204,000||2.9%|
|November||2,523,575||$ 211,875||$ 204,000||3.9%|
|December||2,681,413||$ 212,000||$ 205,036||3.4%|
Source: ATTOM Data Solutions
What to know if you’re considering buying now
If you’re considering buying now, get serious about it and look at houses in earnest, says Lewis. “In just a few weeks you’re going to be planning for Thanksgiving and end-of-year holidays. Sellers will be, too. Fewer people buy and sell homes during the holiday season because of the distractions. Buyers will have fewer houses to choose from if they wait until Thanksgiving preparations are in full swing,” says Lewis. What’s more, Hopkins says, “Zillow is forecasting home values will continue to grow at a torrid pace over the next year, meaning a home you’re interested in buying today will likely be more expensive next year.”
Something else to consider is how long a house has been on the market. “Buyers should look for long days-on-market to see if a large discount is possible,” says Yun. Homebuyers should also lock their rate in as soon as possible in the loan process, according to Ceizyk. “With inflation pressures building, interest rates are likely to rise which make the monthly payment on homes that continue to rise in value in many parts of the country even less affordable,” says Ceizyk. (Indeed, some 15-year rates near 2% and some 30-year rates below 3%, as you can see here.)
Bottom line: “If you’re looking for a good deal, Thanksgiving through the end of January might be your best bet, because fewer buyers are out there,” says Lewis.