No matter when you buy, you'll want to know the size of the mortgage you'll need, the mortgage interest rate, the amount you can spend, and the type of property you can afford.
Here's what the research tells us.
The best months to buy a home
For homebuyers, the best time to purchase a home is usually in the late summer or fall.
House hunters will find plenty of homes on the market, but not as much competition for them as in the spring and early summer, when more buyers are on the prowl. So there's a greater likelihood you'll get a bargain.
Sellers listing their homes are more willing to cut their prices when back-to-school is approaching, because they get nervous that they won't be able to make a sale before the cold weather arrives and buyers go into hibernation.
That means during August and September you find the most house listings with at least one price reduction, Zillow says.
Shoppers who are willing to brave the cold weather can find good prices in winter, even though there are fewer homes on the market.
Though December is often considered the very best month to buy a house or condominium, you usually pay about a 1.5% premium at that time of year, according to Attom Data Solutions, a real estate information company. Still, the premium is higher if you purchase in the summer.
More: How much does a mortgage really cost?
The best week to buy a home
You may have a little more free time to check out open houses and negotiate with a seller when the kids are back in school.
That’s excellent timing if you're a homebuyer, considering that a 2019 study from Realtor.com showed the most favorable buying conditions are during the last week of fall.
Nearly 6% of sellers lowered their price during the week of Sept. 22 through 28, according to the study, which was based on nationwide sales data from 2016 to 2018.
There’s less competition that week, more price reductions and higher inventory — ideal conditions for a house hunter.
The best days to buy a home
The single best day to buy is Dec. 26, because almost no one is in the market on the day after Christmas.
Sellers eager for a sale are willing to give discounts below market value averaging 1.3% — potentially worth thousands of dollars, says Attom.
Attom looked at four years' worth of sales and found that other buyer-friendly dates on the calendar include:
- Dec. 4.
- Dec. 7.
- Dec. 29.
- Oct. 12.
- Nov. 9.
The best day of the week to close on a home purchase is Monday, when buyers get discounts averaging 2.3% below market value, according to a 2015 study from RealtyTrac, which is now part of Attom.
Friday is the second-best day for buying, and brings discounts averaging 2%.
More: Learn why real estate agents prefer buyers who got pre-approved for a mortgage.
The worst times to buy
If price is most important to you, don't buy a home in spring or during the first part of the summer, particularly not in June.
That's when houses tend to sell the fastest, leaving homebuyers with little room to negotiate. You'll pay a higher premium in June than at any other time of the year, Zillow says.
And generally midweek is not a great time to make a home purchase.
On a Thursday, you're likely to get a buyer discount averaging 1%, smaller than on any other day of the week, says RealtyTrac.
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But wait ...
Keep in mind that the best or worst time for you to buy a dream home may depend on your location.
If you live in a place with a warmer climate, like Florida, you won't find the typical seasonal differences in home pricing. Sellers won't be in a rush to make a deal in September because they're not worried about any change in the weather putting a chill on the housing market.
The key timing for you also depends on your interests.
If what you want most is to have the greatest number of homes to choose from, and you don't care as much about getting a bargain, you may prefer to buy during the busier spring and early summer.
Next steps to becoming a homeowner
So, 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.
More: Why sellers will ask for a "proof of funds letter" and how to get one.
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