As the temperature continues to drop, the winter blues are starting to set in. Yup — we are in for a few harrowing months of cold and darkness, which are hard to escape. Of course, I would recommend a weekend trip to Miami, but that makes for an entirely different article.
What I would recommend, however, is the timing of your apartment hunt. If you’re considering buying this year, I would highly advise for you to go against the grain and start your search now. Most would-be buyers completely avoid the winter, as people stay bundled up at home and are completely unmotivated to go out and hit the pavement. But, similar to the off-peak rental season, winter is a great time of year to find a deal. Let’s take a look at four good reasons you should embrace the cold when it comes to finding your new home.
1. Less competition
When you’re looking at apartments in winter, you’ll likely encounter much less crowded open houses than what you’re used to during the warmer months. As you may know from prior winters in the city, the streets get pretty empty on the weekends as people tend to hunker down after the holidays, go on ski trips or do the snowbird thing and head south.
This puts you in total control when you start seriously considering a property during the winter. You don’t need to feel as pressured by the threat of other buyers coming in and swooping away your dream loft. You’ll have time on your side and the ability to strategically make decisions on what you’re seeking. Less competition also means a lower likelihood of bidding wars with other potential buyers.
2. Greater flexibility to negotiate
One of the downsides of apartment shopping during winter is that there’s less inventory on the market than during the spring and summer months. However, what that does tell you is that the sellers who are listing are motivated to sell. This increases your ability to negotiate a good deal. Understanding the motivation of individuals is key to any negotiation, so simply recognizing that someone is willing to list their property during a time that is perceived to be the least competitive in the year already demonstrates that there’s significant motivation to sell the property as soon as possible. You and your broker should utilize this knowledge to score a good deal.
3. Low interest rates
Interest rates are still at record lows. Whether you’re considering a 30-year fixed rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage, low interest rates should be music to your ears. The ultimate benefit of low interest rates means that you’ll have lower monthly mortgage payments. Of course, if you’re an all-cash buyer, this is not applicable to you. With the economy picking up and the domestic real estate market rebounding in many parts of the country, there’s a constant threat of interest rates rising. One thing that’s certain is that interest rates will not be going down from their current levels and the Federal Reserve seems to be dancing with the idea of raising rates on a fairly consistent basis. Of course, this is all talk, until it finally happens.
4. Opportunity for investors to maximize rental yields
If you’re an investor shopping for an investment property, looking for that property in winter is beneficial. This is because you’ll want your investment property ready at the start of spring so you can capture high rental yields. By the time you go from previewing properties all the way to closing, you’ll wind up at the start of spring. Combined with the fact that you’ll have likely scored a deal by signing a contract during the winter, you’ll maximize your return by locking in the monthly rent during peak time.
Looking for properties in winter takes dedication. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Think you can stomach the cold and inconvenience? Bundle up, get out there and start looking. Don’t be shy. There’s something out there for you. And if you can’t find something that suits your needs during winter, don’t rush. You’ll just be that much more prepared to pull the trigger when you find something in the spring or summer.