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When Is The Best Time To Buy A House? A Real Estate Market Breakdown

6-Minute Read
Published on February 8, 2024
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You’ve got your down payment ready to go. Your credit score is higher than ever. You have a real estate agent lined up. And, you’re about to hit “submit” on that mortgage preapproval application when you stop to wonder: “Is now the right time?”

It’s an important question. Your readiness to buy a house isn’t just affected by your own financial circumstances. It’s also determined by what the larger real estate market is doing.

The article below will break down the best time of year to buy a house, as well as certain months that have ideal home buying conditions.

When Is A Good Time To Buy A House?

Generally, the best time to buy a house often ends up being in the late summer and early fall. That's because, around the end of summer, there tends to be less competition than at the peak during the spring and early summer, but still a fair number of houses on the market. In the late fall and early winter, there are fewer homes on the market, but buyers often have more negotiating power, since there’s less competition.

However, you should keep in mind that many market conditions can impact your home purchase. Some of these factors are influenced on a smaller scale, such as demand for a local neighborhood, or on a larger scale, like a nationwide economic downturn.

Talk to your real estate agent before you begin house-hunting. Most agents will be up to date on predicted trends and can help you decide if now is the right time to buy. 

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Buy A House?

Before you start your journey to homeownership, you should know that even the hottest real estate markets experience seasonality, which means there are certain ups and downs we can expect at specific times, year after year. But there are some general housing market trends that present good, strategic reasons to buy a house depending on the season.

Spring Months

As the temperatures get warmer, so do many real estate markets across the country. During the spring months, you can expect to see more inventory, but you’ll also face stiffer competition. That means you’re more likely to experience bidding wars and possibly higher prices.

Sellers generally are less likely to negotiate on their asking prices since the home buying season is just beginning. The nicer weather can additionally entice more home buyers to attend open houses and showings.

For many first-time home buyers, spring likely won’t be a good time to purchase real estate, especially if you’re aiming for affordability. Instead, you might have more luck waiting for the summer or fall.

Summer Months

Much like the spring months, early summer is a busy time for home buyers. Inventory and competition are usually still high. That means if you’re in a hot market, be prepared to give your best offer upfront. And, don’t expect any seller concessions to sweeten the deal on your end.

However, as the summer wears on, you might see less competition and potentially lower prices. With the school holiday coming to a close, buyers with children will either finalize their purchases or wait until next summer to move their families.

Since there may be fewer buyers on the market, you could have an easier time finding your dream home in late summer. Plus, leftover inventory from the spring and early summer peak can mean plenty of homes to choose from.

Fall Months

Late summer through early fall tends to be the best time of year to buy a house. There’s less competition but still plenty of inventory. Prices are also more likely to drop because sellers who listed their home in the spring or summer might be open to a lower offer in an effort to sell before winter.

But keep in mind: As fall progresses into winter, fewer homeowners will be listing their properties for sale. And if home prices are dropping in your area, sellers may decide to wait until the spring to make a move.

In other words, if you plan to buy a home in the fall, get started as early as possible. If you take too long to find a house, low housing inventory in your local real estate market could force you to wait until next year.

Winter Months

While fewer homes are on the market during the winter, they do offer potential cost-saving opportunities for savvy home shoppers. There are two reasons this time of year can be the ticket to getting into a home you love:

  1. Fewer shoppers can equal more motivated sellers. This, in turn, can lead to lower asking prices and more concessions.
  2. With fewer homes on the market, real estate professionals and lenders tend to be more available during the winter months, which can help speed up the closing process.

Note that this advice is aimed at those who live in areas that experience large fluctuations in weather between the seasons. In warmer areas without cold, snowy winters, differences between peak and off-peak seasons may be less pronounced.

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When Is The Best Month To Buy A House?

Nailing down a specific month to buy will depend on your goals and your local real estate market. If you plan on strategizing your entrance into the market as a buyer, it’s best to team up with a real estate agent or REALTOR® who works in your area, as they’ll be the local expert.

If you’re looking for a sweet spot between peak season and winter, consider buying in August or September. In early fall, inventory is still abundant, but the market has cooled off enough for you to negotiate a good house price.

When Is The Cheapest Time Of Year To Buy A House?

While it’s hard to say for certain, January and February are the most likely to offer you the lowest prices in your market.

While the market experiences some predictable seasonality, things change from year to year. Fluctuations in the larger economy can affect the usual rhythms of your local real estate market. Also, perhaps more importantly, seasonality might not be the best determining factor in what price you pay for a home.

Depending on where you live and what kinds of houses you’re looking at, you could get a good deal any time of the year. If you want more insight into the best month to buy, research publicly available home sales prices in your specific area.

Is Now The Best Time To Buy A House?

As mentioned previously, there are many factors that determine the best time for you to buy a home. Some of these factors could affect your local market while others are impacting the overall real estate industry.

Because there are so many factors, it can be difficult to evaluate all of them. That said, there are some key considerations you can make to help you decide whether to buy or wait.

Current Mortgage Rates

For home buyers, a big piece of the puzzle involves what mortgage rates will do in the future. Though this can be hard to predict, there are a few different clues we can use to form a judgment about the real estate market.

For starters, changes to the federal funds rate can directly affect current mortgage rates. The Federal Reserve – which controls the fed funds rate – may announce their plans before making changes. Paying attention to upcoming announcements can give you an idea if interest rates are predicted to trend upward or downward.

Economic Conditions

Changes to the federal funds rate can also impact the wider economy. For instance, the Federal Reserve uses this mechanism to help combat inflation and stimulate economic growth. That’s why we saw historically low mortgage rates during the COVID-19 pandemic and climbing interest rates this past year.

Though some economic conditions aren’t ideal for buyers, that doesn’t mean it’s not the right time for you to buy a house. To make an educated decision, it’s important to consider both the economic factors that affect the costs of buying (and borrowing to buy) a home, along with your own financial situation.

Personal Finances

One of the biggest factors you need to consider is your own finances. Before you start shopping for a home and mortgage, make sure you can comfortably afford the down payment and closing costs. You should also ensure your monthly income can support the mortgage payments.

If you haven’t already, you can use a mortgage calculator to test out different interest rates, down payment amounts and loan terms to help you find the perfect mortgage for your situation.

The Bottom Line: The Best Time To Buy A House Is When You’re Ready

So when is a good time to buy a house? The right time to buy a house is when you know your finances can handle the responsibility of owning a home. It’s right when you personally feel ready to buy a new home and you’re comfortable with the current market conditions.

If you’re considering whether buying a new home would be a good move for you, now is the time to start researching. Keep an eye on the housing market to get an idea of the trends in your area. And once you know you’re ready to start the home buying process, start the process for an initial approval and talk to a Home Loan Expert.

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Victoria Araj

Victoria Araj is a Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage and held roles in mortgage banking, public relations and more in her 15+ years with the company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in political science from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Michigan.