Dos and Don'ts of Buying a Home in Winter

By: Helison Aniyi

Dos and Don'ts of Buying a Home in Winter

Tags: Real Estate

Springtime has historically been the prime time for people looking for a new home. That's when families with school-aged children start looking for a new house to call their own before the new school year begins in September. However, there are times when it makes sense to purchase a home during the winter. In fact, finding a new home to live in during the so-called "off-season" has several advantages. This might range from quicker closure times to lower prices. As interest rates rose and real estate availability increased in the late autumn of 2022, house prices began to decrease in several significant areas. Therefore, if you are looking for a new house right now, here are the dos and don'ts of buying a home in winter.

Make Sure the Heating and Cooling Systems Are in Working Order

Before buying a house this winter, you should ensure that the heating system is in working order. To do this, you must conduct a proper inspection and ask a few questions. For instance, you should ask how old the HVAC system is. The average lifespan of a heating and cooling system is between 12 and 15 years. That being said, you will find systems that are ten years old and broken while others are still going strong at 20. How well they are maintained has a significant impact on their lifespan. Therefore, ensure that the owner has recently serviced the system. Or that he reimburses you by reducing the asking price if he expects you to perform the maintenance. The last thing you want is for your heating system to break down in the middle of the winter.


Get Pre Approval

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage not only helps you limit your house search to affordable properties, but it may also help you close the deal much more quickly. This is especially useful if you are relocating to a new city this winter. There are limits on what a lender may send an unqualified borrower under federal law. This can slow you down if you need to make a quick purchase, which is an issue if you're trying to get everything in order in the dead of winter. 


Work With an Agent

When you hire a real estate agent, you're getting someone with extensive knowledge of the local property market, current circumstances, and the home-buying process as a whole. Finding a real estate agent who works with buyers and sellers in the area you're interested in is an essential first step toward making your home-buying dreams a reality. Real estate brokers are among the strongest negotiators you will ever meet. This means they can do all of the legwork when it comes to representing your interests and negotiating the best price and terms for your first home. 


Research Is Essential, so Don't Put It Off

Most of the time, the information you see in a listing is inaccurate. This is partly due to the fact that, in the interest of making a sale, homeowners often stage their properties to look as appealing as possible. Therefore, if you are on the fence about a property you are considering, it is probably not a good investment. However, while this is not always the case, it is still worth mentioning. That is why it's important to do your homework before buying a home in winter. Look at photos and videos online and schedule a viewing in person.


Furthermore, working with a real estate agent can help you determine if a given property meets your needs. It's the same with using a mortgage calculator to determine whether or not you can buy a property. Some mortgage calculators may leave out essential costs like principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. That's why it's important to verify everything before making an offer.


Don't Be Afraid of Negotiations

If the house inspection uncovers any red flags, you may want to haggle with the seller after you get the report. Prioritizing the resolution of more pressing concerns (such as those related to health and safety) over less pressing ones is essential. If you have a real estate agent on your side, you may sit down and discuss your options and the extent to which you want to negotiate. It is common practice to either negotiate a lower sales price or have professional repairs done just before closing. However, it's also possible to ask the seller to pay a portion of your closing fees if you agree to retain the selling price as it is.


Don't Make Huge Changes

Buying a new home during the winter requires your undivided attention, which becomes more difficult if you also attempt to make other changes. You shouldn't switch jobs before purchasing a property unless doing so would significantly increase your income. The same holds for financing major items prior to closing. It may cause your credit score to plummet and your debt-to-income ratio to skyrocket, jeopardizing your approval. This is why you need to take everything one step at a time. If you have a lot of belongings to move, it's better to arrange your items neatly in a storage unit and wait to complete the purchase than it is to make a mad dash to close the deal and relocate everything at once.



Now that you understand the dos and don'ts of buying a home in winter, you can start making plans. If you have the right information and realistic expectations, you should be able to breeze through this process. Take your time and think carefully about your future home. Even though winter has arrived, there is still time to conduct all the necessary research and negotiate a good deal.