When we think of real estate and the idea of buying a house, spring and summer automatically come to mind. However, buying a house in the winter and more specifically over the holidays can actually be an advantageous time for both buyers and sellers. Over the winter and the holiday season, there is a smaller number of buyers and as a result the ones who are looking are typically more motivated. As someone who is looking to buy a house, this can translate to less competition. However, buying a house in the winter can make the process a bit more tricky to navigate given that some of the property might be buried underneath the snow and you might overlook the exterior to get inside where it is warm. This leads us right into it!
Don’t Overlook The Exterior
Unlike in the summer and spring time when the weather is nice, the lawn is growing and everything is bloom, the winter months often exhibit the opposite. Curb appeal is an important factor to consider when buying, regardless of the time of year. When you arrive at the house you are looking at, pay attention to the roof, driveway, stairs, etc. Hopefully the homeowner has shovelled so you are able to see everything. Something to consider is how much work you will want to do on the outside of the home. Consider if there is landscaping or not. Unfortunately we are in a time where costs can add up quickly. If you are serious about the home, consider asking for pictures of the house in the summertime so you can see what the exterior looks like.
Examine The Interior
As you walk around the inside of the house, there are some winter red-flags that you’ll want to keep an eye out for. Some key examples being signs of drafts, fogging or condensation in the windows. This could point to broken seals, allowing cold air to enter the house.
As the winter weather approaches, the air typically gets dryer. If the home has hardwood floors, look for splitting and gaping in the floors. This can be attributed to the homes humidity levels as dryness can cause things to shrink slightly. Another important consideration is the insulation of the home. As you walk around, feel the walls (the ones that face the outside of the home and the interior of the home) to see if they are cold or warm. If they are cold, this can often result in poor insulation. Lastly, as you travel from room to room make note of any changes in temperature as this often be attributed to poor ventilation. Also note of where the vents are and if there is furniture blocking them as this may be a culprit of a cold room.
Unfortunately, in the wintertime, we have to shut down many of our seasonal amenities such as a pool and air conditioning. However, you shouldn’t skip over looking at these if you are interested in purchasing the home you are viewing.
For example, you likely won’t be able to turn on the air conditioning to test it out in the winter to confirm if it is working or not. However, make sure you or your Realtor ask the seller questions about all of the home systems including furnace, septic, etc.
For pools and hot tubs, it’s always good to ask for maintenance records and receipts to ensure they are in good working order. As always, having a home inspection is a great way to get a deeper understanding of the property to make sure everything is in working order. They will often be able to provide you with a much more in depth report than you would be able to complete yourself.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking at purchasing a home this winter, you can always contact me with any questions that you might have. I have a list of professionals who are happy to help make sure the home you move into is sound and ready for occupancy with no hiccups.