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When is the best time to buy a house?

PeopleImages.com - Yuri A / Shutterstock

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Updated: February 15, 2024

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When is the best time to buy a home? The simple answer is: when you’re good and ready. For those who are not in a rush and can bide their time, the not-so-simple answer isn’t as straightforward.

The best months to buy a home

The best time of year to buy a house, according to a study by ATTOM Data Solutions, is October.

They analyzed home sales over the past decade and crunched the numbers to determine when buyers are more likely to pay the lowest for their home compared to market value. 

ATTOM analyzed more than 47 million home purchases and found that the spookiest month of the year is the least frightening for home buyers. October is when homes sell the least above market value (at a 6.2% premium above market value). 

In terms of the best months to buy, September and November (both with a 6.8% premium paid above market value), December (6.9%), and August (7.6%) are the months you want to dive into the market. You’ll notice that, regardless of the month, buyers today are still often paying a premium above asking price, at least on the national level.

At a state level, locals can save a little on the market value – but that all depends on where you live. For example, the best month to buy a house is October in Michigan (at -2.6% market value), December in New Hampshire (-2.1%), June in Hawaii (-1.8%), February in New Jersey (-1.7%), and October in Illinois (-1.6%). 

The best week to buy a home

Want to zoom in a little closer in your search to time the market right down to the best week? According to Realtor.com, the best week to purchase a home is the first week of October. With fall in full swing and the holiday season just around the corner, buyers and sellers alike are eager to be settled before the gift giving begins.

According to a recent study by Realtor.com, active listings were up 11.7% between October 1 and 7, 2023, compared to the average week, and up 17.2% compared to the start of the year.

There’s also less competition during that week, with 18.7% fewer buyers compared to the peak and 13.5% fewer than the average week.

“This seasonal slowdown is partly driven by school schedules and weather patterns,” the study said.

“Housing market activity begins in earnest in spring and peaks in summer as families hoping to move while kids are out of class look to close on a home with enough time to settle in before the back-to-school rush.”

According to the study, buyers who purchase a home that first week of October can save close to $15,000 compared to purchasing during peak times. That’s not a bad chunk of change to hold on to.

The best days to buy a home

If you’re looking to time your purchase down to the exact day, you can do that – but, you might need to bundle up when attending showings. According to ATTOM, the best day to buy a home is January 9. Homes sold at just a 3.8% premium on January 9, which is much lower than the 14.4% premium paid on the worst day to buy a home – more on that in a bit.

Some other good days to purchase a home, according to the study, are October 9 and December 4 (when homes sold at a 4.4% premium), October 2 and October 10 (+4.5%), September 7 (+4.6%), November 13 and December 26 (+5%), December 24 (+5.1%), and October 16 (+5.2%). 

If you’d like to dig even deeper into these numbers, ATTOM put together a handy breakdown of the best days of the year to purchase a home, looking at the number of sales, median price, and the premium/discount buyers received compared to the market value. You can check that out below.

Month
Day
# of sales
Median sale price
Premium/discount
January
9
88,136 
$190,000 
3.8%
December
4
128,366
$218,118
4.4%
October
9
114,032
$215,000 
4.4%
October
2
150,036
$210,000
4.5%
October
10
99,627
$210,000
4.5%
September
7
104,402
$250,781
4.6%
December
26
58,653
$205,000
5.0%
November
13
134,777
$217,313
5.0%
December
24
32,573
$258,990
5.1%
October
16
134,428
$258,990
5.2%

The worst times to buy a home

Buying a house can’t always be perfectly timed – so, if you can’t close the deal during the best months, you should at least try to avoid purchasing a home when it’s the worst time to buy. 

The worst day to purchase a home, according to ATTOM is right around Memorial Day: May 28. On that day, homes have sold for a 14.4% premium above the market value. So, you’re probably better off spending the time with family and friends around Memorial Day than trying to purchase a home.

Should I buy a home today?

Of course, purchasing a home isn’t the easiest thing to time. Saving up, finding the right house and negotiating the right deal can take a time.

Current sentiment in the US is that now is not a great time to buy a home, according to a housing survey by Fannie Mae, especially with stubbornly high interest rates and no crystal ball to know when or if they will start to drop. 

Thirty-one percent of those surveyed expect interest rates to decrease in the near future, compared to 31% who expect them to increase. Meanwhile, 36% of respondents expect interest rates to hold steady for a while yet. 

That said, optimism about purchasing is increasing, with 17% of respondents believing now is a good time to buy, compared to 14% a month earlier. 

Even though interest rates are high, there are some benefits to purchasing a home in a high interest rate environment. Potential advantages include:

  • Lower home prices in some areas: With higher rates, buyers' budgets are pinched, making them less likely to participate in bidding wars.
  • Less risk: With less competition, you’ll have an easier time purchasing a home with conditions, such as a home inspection.
  • Build more equity: Each month you own a home increases the percentage of the home you own.

If you can wait, though, it might be worth avoiding buying when interest rates remain high. With the economy improving, and inflation settling, rates might be on their way down in the near future. If you’d like to stay on top of current interest rates, bookmark our current mortgage rates  page.

Next steps to becoming a homeowner

One of the first things you should do before you start your search for your new home is figure out how much home you can actually afford. Our mortgage calculator will help with that. You can input home prices, mortgage rates, down payment amounts, and loan terms to help you see the real numbers you're working with.

Consult our guide on purchasing your next home for an in depth look at what the process will look like, but here’s a brief breakdown of what you should do to prepare to buy a home.

Check your credit score

Lenders offer their best rates to those who have solid credit score. but different types of loans have different minimum requirements. Here’s how it breaks down: 

  • Conventional loans (standard mortgages): 620
  • FHA loans, insured by the Federal Housing Administration: 580
  • VA loans, guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: 580
  • USDA loans, backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture: 580

Find a lender

Competition is a good thing and the mortgage industry is no different. There are hundreds of lenders all vying to build their mortgage books, so make sure to shop around to find the perfect mortgage for you. A mortgage broker can help with this process: they work for you trying to find the right mortgage fit at the best rate.

Get a mortgage pre-approval

Next, you’ll want to get pre-approved for a mortgage. A pre-approval is an estimate from a lender for how they will allow you to borrow based on your financial situation and credit score. Having a pre-approval is not the same as actually being financed, but it will help you narrow down your home search because it will give you a sense of how much home you can afford. 

Find a home and make an offer

This is the exciting part. Once all your financial ducks are in a row, you can start the search for the perfect home and put in an offer. While some people choose to look for and purchase without a real estate agent, they can help find a house and negotiate a good price so it's worth engaging one to help with your purchase. 

Get ready to buy

When you’re ready to buy — or at least start looking seriously — arm yourself with everything you need to know to purchase a house.

Understand the difference between a fixed- and an adjustable-rate mortgage to determine which is better for your situation.

And shop around for the best mortgage rate by comparing offers from at least five lenders to find the best deal in your area.

With files from Doug Whiteman

Justin da Rosa Freelance Contributor

Justin is a writer and editor who has been covering personal finance for over 10 years. He's written for companies such as KOHO, Ratehub, BMO, Zoocasa, and Questrade, among others. Justin also created a course in Content Creation, which he taught at York University for four years. When not writing, Justin can be found at a live concert, on the golf course, riding a motorcycle, or sailing.

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