Whether you’re anxiously house hunting for the first time or considering a second home, buying a house can be one heck of a process. This is especially true when looking in highly competitive markets like that of the Bozeman and Belgrade area. We may have a sky that goes on for days on end, but the same can’t be said for the number of houses on our market. It’s no secret that the competition is fierce, with potential buyers competing so intensely for property you’d think they were trying to nab a flat in New York City. With such a high demand for houses and not enough properties to meet it, any little thing you can do for a leg up (that will also make your life easier) is a bonus. Our best suggestion? Buy in the wintertime.
The Power of House Hunting in Belgrade during the Winter
When you look to buy in the winter, you scooch your way out of the busiest buying seasons and into a more subdued market. Now, notice we said more subdued. Things are still competitive, but at least you haven’t picked the busiest buying season to start looking. If you can swing it, we highly recommend waiting until snowier days are on the horizon. Let’s talk about why.
1. Less Competition
Like we mentioned, winter isn’t the busiest season of the year when it comes to looking for a house. That would be springtime, when potential buyers begin to look forward to new beginnings after the long, cold, winter months. It’s easier to get out and about in the spring, and the houses show much better as everything turns green and begins to bloom. This means that if a buyer can look in the winter, it’s a great idea. You’ll be elbowing your way in against less people, which is always a plus in a competitive market.
2. Sellers are More Flexible
If less people are beating down their doors and pouring into their open houses, sellers are often apt to be a little more flexible this time of year. When they’ve got multiple offers pouring in during the springtime, all they have to do is pick the best one, giving them all the power and you little-to-none to bargain with. With fewer offers on the table, it can result in a more flexible stance that can land you a better deal—whether it’s coming down on the overall price or getting the roof replaced. Again, it’s worth noting that in a competitive market like Gallatin Valley, the competition doesn’t exactly dry up any time of year. But if it’s competitive in winter, you know it’ll be a blood bath come spring.
3. See How the House Holds Up
Winters are hard on things here, and they prove to be one of the best tests of quality you can look for. When you view a house in the winter months, you know you’re viewing her at her most vulnerable, and any potential problems will quickly show themselves. Things like drafty doors and leaky windows quickly reveal themselves. You’ll get to see whether or not the driveway sits in the shade for most of the day (and therefore stays frozen for most of the winter). Combine this with that less competitive market and you might get sellers to agree to fixing little things like those drafty doors and windows that can end up making a big difference in your power bill, not to mention your quality of life.
4. Lenders Have More Time for You
When you’re house hunting in a cutthroat market, timing is everything. The slightest delay can cause you to miss out on the house of your dreams if you’re not quick enough. Many times, delays beyond your control that can ruin your process—like waiting on lenders, inspectors or appraisers. In the spring and summer, lenders have more people to process, which can put your loan results out days, even weeks. When people are walking in to buy a house, cash in hand, a slow lending process can really pull the rug out from under you. When you house hunt in the winter, you get the benefit of lenders with more time on their hands, and therefore qualification results in sometimes as little as 24 hours.
You Save a Little Extra Money
Apart from homes being generally cheaper in the winter due to the lack of competition, you can also save a little money if you close before the holidays. You can use your home as a write off if you get the deal done before the new year rolls in. Of course, this depends on what your local laws are, but closing on a house before the turn of the year could mean you’re able to deduct mortgage interest, taxes, and points. Of course, we suggest talking to your tax professional first to get all the accurate information you need to make a decision.
As you house hunt this winter in the Gallatin Valley, make sure to check out Prescott Ranch, Belgrade’s newest community of affordable luxury homes. Contact us today to schedule a tour of our model homes!