Whether it’s the warmer weather, the pending summer break from school, or simply a seasonal mental shift, spring is hot for real estate. (In some markets, the spring home sales season even gets an early start.) “Statistically, spring has been the busiest season to purchase a property,” says Maria Babaev of Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Roslyn, NY.
But is spring really the best time to buy a house? While there are certainly some advantages to buying during the coming months, there are also plenty of disadvantages. If you’re focused on optimal timing, consider these variables.
Pro: There’s more inventory
It really is like clockwork: When April rolls around, property listings multiply like crocuses. One reason is that homes simply show better in the spring, with all the blooming flowers and the lack of snow. Sellers also feel more motivated once the warmer weather rolls around. And then, of course, success begets success. Potential sellers hear about all the bidding wars that result from springtime listings and figure it’s best to wait out the winter chill, then get a piece of the April action.
Con: There’s more competition
There are many more homes to choose from, yes, but there are also more buyers looking at those homes. Many, many more. Spring produces a rush of potential bidders who, like many sellers, have sat out the previous season in hopes of having more options now. And more buyers, alas, means bidding wars and higher prices, says Babaev. Plus, anticipating this higher demand, sellers may have priced their homes a bit higher than they would in winter.
Pro: It’s the perfect time for families to shop
Choosing to move your family is stressful no matter the time of year, but at least in the summer you won’t have to balance packing up your house with school pickup and moving dates with graduation dates. To execute the ideal summer move, you have to start house hunting … now. “Many families that are purchasing homes would like to be settled in their new residences prior to the start of the school year,” says Babaev. “With a standard transaction taking 60 to 90 days to close, they must be in contract by mid-June, which means they should really get serious about looking and making decisions in April/May.”
Con: The stress of relocating your family can lead to bad decision-making
With all the pressure to buy a home before the school calendar starts anew, it’s a lot easier to start compromising … and compromising … and compromising. If you’re looking to change school districts before fall, the desire to purchase anything could start to override common sense. Just remember that it’s possible you’ll be in your new home for a long time, so don’t make a hasty decision.