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What is purchase season for home buying?

You can purchase a house during any season, but spring typically signals the start of the homebuying season. That’s when home inventory and sales usually hit their annual peaks.

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Jean Folger

11/1/2022 · 3 min read

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Key takeaways

  • Seasonality can affect factors like housing inventory and purchase price.

  • Spring and summer are usually the peak seasons for the real estate market.

  • Homebuyers might see better deals when the colder weather kicks in.

Traditional seasonal real estate patterns all but vanished during the pandemic. Because there was so much demand for housing, any time of year may have been a good time to sell — and buyers paid the price for that demand. The average sales price of homes climbed from about $375,000 in early 2020 to $543,000 by mid-2022.

 While the pandemic upended the usual ebb and flow of the market, the seasonality of real estate activity might be returning to more traditional patterns. Here’s what that typically means.

The homebuying season: spring and early summer 

April, May, June, and July are generally the best months to sell a house. But this season can be both good and bad for buyers, who might have more choices — but also more competition.

 Late spring and early summer have traditionally been when the most homes hit the market — and when they sell the fastest. The nicer weather and longer days can stimulate buying activity, especially after a long winter. Homes tend to show well with the abundance of new leaves, bright flowers, and spring-cleaning projects. And it can be an ideal time for families to find new homes and settle in before the back-to-school rush.

 Even though it’s a pleasant time of year to shop, the increased demand and competition may limit negotiation power and raise prices. These months are when homes are most likely to sell above market value (or at a “premium”). According to real estate data company ATTOM, the average monthly premiums have historically peaked in May (12.6% premium), June (10.7%), July (10.0%), and April (9.2%), tapering off during the rest of the year.

Buyers may find better deals in late fall and winter

Fall and winter can be the worst seasons to sell a house, and there’s typically a notable decline in inventory. Shorter days, dropping temperatures, and inclement weather can make homes look less inviting. That winter weather can also make shopping tricky, especially if there’s snow or ice on the ground. And many families push homebuying to the back burner as school starts and the busy holiday season approaches.

Still, winter can be a good time for buyers to score better deals. While buyers might have fewer choices, there’s also less competition — and sellers are often motivated. This can translate to less competition and lower prices. According to ATTOM, homes are least likely to sell above market value during October (5.2%), November (6.1%), January (6.2%), and December (6.3%). Fewer buyers can also mean more negotiation power and better terms — another plus for buyers.

Keep in mind that the impacts of seasonality depend (at least partly) on where you are in the country. For example, there’s less distinction between the seasons in the South and West, where the weather is nicer year-round. On the other hand, there’s a bigger gap between summer and winter in the Northeast and Midwest, where winters can hit the hardest.

This content is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, or insurance advice. Opendoor always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

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Jean FolgerAuthor

Jean Folger is a researcher, editor, and writer with more than 15 years experience, specializing in real estate and personal finance. Her goal is to help people make better financial decisions, so they have more money and time to spend on the things that matter most. ​In the past, she has been a real estate broker, an English teacher, and a trip leader for an adventure travel company.

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Jena GreeneEditor

Jena Greene is the Managing Editor at Opendoor. She covers real estate, personal finance, money management, and market best practices. Jena is passionate about empowering people to find their dream homes and making the home-buying process a delightful one.