Following the last few whirlwind years on the real estate market, almost unprecedented times when Americans saw homes flying off the market amid rock-bottom mortgage rates, the housing market is finally starting to cool down a bit, and inventory is growing. This is chiefly because mortgage rates have gone back up, and because inflation is crushing so many would-be buyers.
“Fall is definitely the best time to buy because kids are back in school and most families don’t want to move during the school season,” said Trey Crusey, an Alabama realtor and investor with Home Buyers of Alabama. “Buying a house and moving is already stressful enough without adding on kids having to move schools so most people use spring and summer to make the changes. This means an increased buyer pool which means stiffer competition and more offers for homes on the market.”
It all makes for a rather confusing situation that may have hopeful homeowners asking themselves, “So should I buy a house now or wait?” The answer is to wait — but not for too long. Fall (especially late fall) is the best time to buy a house. Here’s why.
A Golden Window for Buyers
“For the strategic homebuyer, fall is a canvas of opportunities,” said Gordy Marks of Gordy Marks Real Estate Team at RE/MAX NW in Kirkland WA/Seattle. “It’s when the challenges of the season can become their biggest assets, especially if they’re after a great deal.”
“I especially like going after vacant homes that have been sitting for over the average number of days on market,” Crusey said. “These owners have already been through multiple showings with no sale plus they’re vacant and costing the owners money so their motivation is higher.”
“I always tell my clients: If you’re looking for a deal, fall might just be your season,” Marks said. “It’s a delicate balance, of course. You could land a better deal, but there’s a trade-off in terms of the number of available listings.”
On-Demand and Choices
“Fall brings a calm to the real estate hustle,” Marks said. “With fewer buyers and sellers in play, choices might be limited, but it’s often a sign that those in the market are genuinely motivated.”
Fall often brings motivated sellers to the market, according to Jennifer Susanne Sommers, a global real estate expert at ONE Sotheby’s Intl Realty.
“Homeowners who have listed their properties during the spring and summer months but failed to sell may become more eager to close a deal before the end of the year,” Sommers said. “These motivated sellers are more likely to be flexible with negotiations, offering potential buyers an advantage in terms of price and other favorable terms.”
“The muted activity in autumn lets buyers shine,” Marks said. “With lesser competition and potentially more motivated sellers, I’ve seen prices recede. More often than not, buyers can push harder on price points and even inspection contingencies.”
“One of the advantages of buying real estate in the fall is the reduced competition compared to the spring and summer seasons,” Sommers said. “Many potential buyers tend to be more active during these warmer months, resulting in increased competition and higher prices. In contrast, the fall season sees a decline in buyer activity, allowing purchasers to negotiate better deals and potentially secure their dream property at a more affordable price.”
Marks said that his market, Seattle, has charm, but it definitely comes with some specific quirks such as the weather.
“The incessant rains and shorter days of fall can be off-putting for many,” Marks said. “Yet, this very challenge can be an asset for the determined buyer. In 2022, the combined seasonal shifts and market dynamics led to a notable 30% price dip.”
“Purchasing real estate in the fall can offer tax advantages,” Sommers said. “Buyers who close on a property before the end of the year may be eligible for tax deductions, including mortgage interest, property taxes, and other related expenses. These deductions can significantly reduce the overall cost of homeownership, making fall an attractive time to invest in real estate.”