Why fall may be the best time to buy a home

Erik J. Martin
The Mortgage Reports contributor

In this article:

There are many theories and studies about why a specific season may be best for homeselling. But there are strong reasons why fall actually may be the best time to buy a home:

  • Research shows the best deals can be had in October
  • There’s less competition from other buyers
  • You may be able to take advantage of tax deductions before the year ends

So learn the facts. Weigh your options. And prepare to act quickly to take advantage of what may be the year’s best window of time for home shoppers.

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What the research reveals

RealtyTrac  examined over 32 million single-family and condo home sales over a 15-year period. They found that, on average, October is the month when buyers get the best deal. That’s because in October the average sales price was 2.6 percent below estimated market value. That equates to a savings of $7,800 on a home that would otherwise sell for $300,000.

The latest Redfin data also suggest that right now is a great time for possibly scoring a home bargain. Redfin’s Demand Index—which measures housing activity prior to purchase—fell 11.9 percent year over year in August. This marks the sixth consecutive month of year-over-year declines.

Related: How to sell your house in the fall for more money

Redfin further revealed that the number of homebuyers requesting tours dropped 3.5 percent year over year; that makes it the third consecutive month of annual decreases. And the number of buyers making offers slipped 20.2 percent year over year in August; that’s the sharpest annual decline since March 2016.

What the experts say

Right now may be the best time to buy a home all year for multiple reasons, say the pros.

“The housing market is past the heydays of spring and early summer, when most homes received multiple offers from buyers desperate to get a home under contract,” said Taylor Marr, Redfin senior economist, in a prepared statement. She added that “easing inventory pressure is allowing home buyers to be more careful in their purchases.”

Related: Moving this fall? Here are the strongest markets this season

In addition, “Some sellers feel the need to lower their prices on inventory that’s been sitting untouched all summer,” says real estate attorney and Florida International University instructor Suzanne Hollander.

What’s more, mortgage interest rates have been creeping up this year. Buyers may see their window for buying closing quickly if rising rates are a factor. So now is the time to get off the fence and lock in before rates go any higher. Click here for a mortgage rate forecast.

Fewer rivals

Depending on the market, “There may also be fewer buyers out there during the fall,” Hollander says.

That means competing with fewer buyers. Consider that many home shoppers don’t want to brave the harsher autumn elements. Others, meanwhile, may choose to postpone their hunting until late winter or early spring next year.

“One advantage of autumn shopping is less competition,” Bruce Ailion, Realtor and real estate attorney, says. “This potentially means you may be able to get a lower price.”

Related: Home maintenance essential for preserving home value

He notes that sellers could be eager to unload their properties that have been sitting on the market. “Sellers may feel that prices are high enough to sell at a discount, too.”

Plus, you may not feel as much pressure to act fast in order to outhustle or outbid a rival. And your real estate team may have more time and fewer clients—which makes you the center of attention. Put another way, the shopping experience could be less stressful and more satisfying.

Another incentive: Pay fewer taxes

Also, “Some buyers and sellers may feel the pressure to buy or sell before this tax year ends. So tax considerations could play into why this is a good time of year to buy a home,” Hollander says.

If you’re able to close before the end of the year, you may be able to capitalize on key real estate-related tax write-offs. If you’re eligible, these could include deductions for:

  • Property taxes
  • Mortgage interest
  • Prepaid interest and points
  • A home office
  • PMI and FHA mortgage insurance premiums
  • Qualified energy-efficient home improvements

Other compelling reasons

Another rationale for why now may be a great time to find your next home: Mother Nature. Colder, rainier weather can expose the flaws in an older home for sale. This provides a truer picture of what shape the home is really in. And discovering improvements to be made can give you bargaining power to ask for a lower price.

Related: Don’t rule out buying during the holiday season

Additionally, fall is a prime time to pay less for appliances you’ll need to buy for your home. Consumer Reports says the period between Labor Day and the end of the holiday season—especially late autumn—is a great window for scoring appliance deals.

Lastly, sellers may be more motivated to sell quickly at this time of year. The reason is the upcoming holidays: Many want to be settled in elsewhere before the approach of Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays they could be hosting or celebrating.

Verify your new rate (Feb 24th, 2020)