Winter is not a popular time to purchase a home. But why? ACTS Housing Specialist Blia Cha took some time to explain to me the advantages and disadvantages of buying a home in winter.
Winter brings some unique challenges to purchasing a home. For one, it’s harder to travel with snow and ice on the road. It also gets dark early, so it’s hard to really see a home.
Another challenge, which is not often explained, is the winterization process that occurs with vacant homes. Blia explained that most of the bank foreclosed homes between Nov 1st and Apr 30th are “winterized.” This means that water and gas are shut off, and potential buyers may have to visit a home without heat or running water. Furthermore, in order to close on financing a home, you will need to reverse this winterization for inspection and appraisal purposes. Some foreclosures will not allow you to have the utilities turned back on for these purposes, some will, but it is at the buyers’ cost.
Blia encourages her winter buyers to know up front that they may incur this extra cost. Often, in the offer, Blia will ask the seller to turn utilities on for the buyer’s inspection. If the seller is on the private market, or the home is occupied, this winterization will not be a problem. For Blia, going into the deal with your eyes wide open and really knowing the property is of the utmost importance, regardless of the season, “know your credit, and know the condition of the property. You have to do a lot of preparation work to actually get to closing…It takes time. For example, one of my buyers has written offers for four different homes before he can close on one home.”
While winter certainly presents icy obstacles, there are also some benefits to purchasing in the winter. Blia explained that since less people are eager to buy a home in the winter, prices are often lower, and there is less competition. This can really work to the buyer’s advantage: “Price and location always drive the deal,” Blia explained, “everybody’s needs are different based on their priority. Is it price? Or location?”
At the end of the conversation, I asked Blia right out – is winter a good time to buy a home? Her response:
“If you’re willing to go the extra mile, we can help you find the deal. Any time is a good time to buy, and good deals are all year round.”