10 Surprising Reasons to Start House Hunting in Fall

It’s a well-established pattern: Home sales heat up every spring and summer, and then, as the leaves begin to change, the market begins to cool. By November, with the holidays looming, few people are focused on real-estate shopping. And that’s why it may very well be the optimal time to begin your hunt. Here are 10 reasons why this counterintuitive move can be a very wise one if you’re hoping to buy a house.

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  1. More Motivated Sellers


    Most sellers list a house in spring or summer when real estate season is at its peak. If their home is on the market in fall or winter, however, chances are the sellers will be eager to close. They may be contending with a major life change, or perhaps the home simply didn’t find a buyer during peak season. In any case, the owners may be very open to making a deal—and that’s a great reason to buy when demand is low.

    Related: 9 Ways to Get the Best Price on Your Dream Home


  2. More Time to Think


    Bidding wars require fast action—but with fewer buyers looking, you’re less like to find yourself competing for a property. Take full advantage of the slower pace to do more comparison shopping and to mull your decision more carefully.

    Related: The Top 10 Costly Mistakes Home Buyers Make


  3. More Favorable Rates


    Mortgage brokers and bankers have business lulls and holiday bills too—and they may be willing to cut a slightly better deal in order to get the deal done. Shop around and don’t be afraid to negotiate on interest, points, or down payments. There may be room to nudge the numbers in your favor.

    Related: 11 Sneaky Ways to Save When Buying a Home


  4. More Interesting Weather


    Every home looks its best on a gorgeous sunny day in May, but how will it seem when the gray months roll around? Whether it’s a rain-soaked November day or a freezing January one, the off-season will afford a clearer picture of how the house holds up under inclement conditions and how the interiors feel on gloomy days. (Of course, this may not apply if you’re looking in a place with a temperate climate year-round).

    Related: 12 Reasons Your Home Isn't Worth as Much as You Think


  5. More Attention From Agents


    The months from September to February are the slowest time of year for real-estate agents, and they’ll be a lot hungrier for your business. To keep your business in the slow season, they're more likely to go the extra mile in terms of searching for the right homes and helping you nail the best deal.

    Related: Find the Right Realtor: 9 Tips from Happy Homeowners


  6. More Flexibility on Moving Dates


    When you’re not in a heated contest against other buyers, you gain power in all kinds of areas—so if you need an earlier or later closing date, go ahead and ask. You may have the leverage to get the seller to adjust their move-out date to better fit your schedule.

    Related: 21 Brilliant Money-Saving Hacks for Your Next Move


  7. More Revealing Views


    Landscaping, with all its lovely flowers and leafy trees, is like makeup for a home—and it can camouflage a lot of flaws. When the leaves have dropped and the blooms have faded, the real story emerges: peeling exterior paint jobs, worn areas in the roof, foundation cracks, and other issues with the home’s exterior will be plain as day.

    Related: 10 Spots It's Okay to Snoop at Every Open House


  8. More Action in the Neighborhood


    When school lets out for the summer, many neighbors may head out on vacation, leaving the neighborhoods feeling a bit empty. Starting in September, life kicks into gear again—so it’s a great time to visit the neighborhood school, and get a more accurate picture of the workaday atmosphere on the block.

    Related: The 12 Fall Home Maintenance Tasks You Can't Ignore


  9. More Handy Types Available


    If you buy and move during the off-season, you’ll have terrific bargaining power with folks who can provide the services you’ll need. It’s the sleepy season for movers, house painters, and contractors, so you’re apt to get faster response times, more attention, and better prices.

    Related: 21 Brilliant Hacks for Everyday Home Repairs


  10. More Bargains for Your New House


    What’s the first thing you do when moving into a new home? Shop! You’ll need everything from a new fridge to a new rug—and, if you’re moving into your home during the holidays or later in the winter, you’ll benefit from all those seasonal specials and post-holiday sales.

    Related: Editors' Picks: 10 Favorite Sofas Under $1,000


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