Why Real Estate Agents Say This Winter Will Be a Tough Time for Homebuying

published Nov 11, 2021
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Historically, winter is a slow time for buying and selling houses. If they can help it, people really prefer to move over the summer, when their kids aren’t in school, they don’t have dozens of holiday obligations, and (in many parts of the country) the weather is better. 

For buyers, this means winter can be a great time to get a good deal on a house — overall, there are fewer buyers out there looking, which means sellers may be more willing to negotiate on price, especially if they need to sell their home quickly (and if they’re selling during the winter, chances are good that they’re moving for a semi-urgent reason, like a job change). On the flip side, there are also fewer houses to choose from. But, hey, if you’re not that picky or you’re on a tight budget, the lack of options might not be a dealbreaker for you.

This winter, however, don’t hold your breath for any screaming deals or earth-shattering discounts as you’re searching for a house. 

Real estate agents expect it to remain a seller’s market, with especially low inventory and plenty of motivated house-hunters continuing to pound the pavement, even as the temperatures drop. 

Though the market might slow down a bit — you may only be competing with one all-cash offer that’s $15,000 over the asking price instead of five, for example — it still won’t be super friendly to buyers.

“Buyers might enjoy a little more time to make decisions and the bidding wars aren’t as intense,” says Kelly Moye, a real estate agent in Colorado. “That being said, we are still in a seller’s market and there really aren’t any deals to be had. The best deal would be to hope to get a fair price without having to toss in your first-born child.”

Steve Laret, a real estate agent in Pennsylvania, echoes that sentiment. This winter, you might be lucky just to get into a home, period.

“You can always get a deal if you have a great agent, but in this market, the deal looks more like getting your offer accepted than it does some disproportionate discount,” he says.

Buyers can expect many of the same stressors they experienced over the summer, though maybe to a slightly lesser degree: crowded open houses, bidding wars, fierce competition among offers, and very short listing periods.

“Homes will continue to move from list to closed very quickly,” says Lauren McKinney, a real estate agent in Asheville, North Carolina.

If you have the luxury of waiting a few months until spring, when there will likely be more homes on the market, McKinney says this could be a good course of action. That said, you should really prioritize your own goals and finances above all else when determining the right time to buy a house. Though taking stock of the market as a whole is important, it shouldn’t be the main deciding factor in your journey. 

“Buying is more about being personally ready and less about the market, especially if someone plans to hold for at least five years,” says Khari Washington, a real estate broker in California.