When Is the Best Time to Buy a House?

Jan 5, 2024 3 min read

Before you download the home buying apps and hit the open house circuit, be sure to do your research on when’s the best time to buy a home so you don’t miss out on savings. You may be surprised by what you learn. As with many things in life, timing is everything and is often a big factor in deciding when to buy a house.

What to Consider When Buying a House

From seasonality to economic implications, here’s what to consider when you’re trying to determine if now is a good time to buy a house.

Time of the Year

Peak home buying seasons vary by location, but based on Redfin’s 2022 U.S. Housing Market data, the best months to buy a house year-over-year are from September through February. If you live in a region that experiences colder temperatures and snow, the warmer months — spring, summer and even early fall generally boast more options when it comes to what’s on the real estate market. During these peak months, you may have more choices, but you may also see more competition. With more competition, be prepared to decide quickly and go in with your best offer up front. Also, don’t expect the seller to agree to many concessions.

In colder months, there are typically fewer homes on the market and there are fewer people looking to buy. According to The National Association of Realtors, winter months have lower amounts of selling activity. With less competition, you may be able to get your home at a lower asking price or get the seller to sweeten the deal (like throwing in the surround sound system or opting to leave the washer and dryer). Sellers who list their homes in the fall and winter may also be more motivated to sell quickly, which may translate to a better deal for you.

October is when buyers typically get the best prices on real estate, according to a report from ATTOM Data Solutions, which analyzed more than 39 million single-family home and condo sales between 2013 and 2021.

The amount buyers spend over the median value of a home, as determined by an automated valuation model, is an average of 3.3% in October, the lowest of any month. In spring and summer, that number increases significantly, with May premiums reaching as high as 10.5%. 

Low Mortgage Rates

If you’re looking for the “perfect” time to buy a home, you may be waiting for lower mortgage rates to hit. It’s difficult to predict when rates will be lower. Waiting for perfect or even good market rates might not be realistic if you want to buy a home soon, but you can always refinance in the future if rates drop markedly.

Just be sure to weigh the pros and cons of refinancing — it typically only makes sense to refinance if you're certain that you'll be able to recoup the cost of refinancing during the time you own the home. Even when rates are low, keep the overall home value in mind to ensure you’re getting a good deal. If you do want to wait it out a bit, be sure to have your ducks in a row so you can move quickly when rates drop. 

Your Finances

Your personal finances have a lot to do with when the best time to buy a home is. The last thing you want is to buy a house you can’t afford, and often times, there may be hidden costs to owning a home you haven’t factored in yet. Buying a home is a big investment and financial responsibility, so be sure to evaluate your overall financial picture before taking the plunge. Here are some financial indicators it is time to buy a home:

  • Amount of Debt: If you’re already drowning in payments for student loans, credit cards and cars, it may not be the best time to take on a mortgage.
  • Credit Score: Your credit score plays a major role in your ability to get a home loan. You can qualify for most mortgages with a credit score of at least 620.
  • Down Payment Funds: While you don’t necessarily need to put a full 20% down to qualify, the more you put down initially, the less you’ll need to borrow.
  • Income Source: A reliable source of income is crucial to making monthly payments on your mortgage. Lenders will also consider your regular income when deciding how much they may be willing to loan you. Before you purchase a home, be sure you’ve crunched the numbers and can afford the payment you’ll be taking on.

Plan for What’s Next

Whether you’re ready to buy a home or you’re just starting to save up for a down payment, your Farm Bureau agent can help you put together a financial plan that will get you one step closer to owning your dream home.

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.