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Airdrie House and Home: Buying homes in the winter

The snow is falling and the chill of winter is upon us. For some, the idea of buying a home in winter seems absurd – after all, everyone knows spring is the best time to buy...

The snow is falling and the chill of winter is upon us. For some, the idea of buying a home in winter seems absurd – after all, everyone knows spring is the best time to buy...right?

Well, go ahead and call me the real estate Elf (I do have pointy ears and eternal optimism), but I believe winter can give the oh-so-popular spring a run for its money.

Here are some reasons why I think buyers should consider winter as a great time to buy real estate:

Good deals

Properties that are for sale through late November and all of December are typically homes that need to sell, and preferably fast. As a seller, it’s not fun when the holiday season is upon you and you have to leave for showings, especially with kids and a dog in tow.

So, if a home is for sale at this time of year (especially over the holidays), this likely means the seller may be a little more motivated to make a deal. And can't we all agree that it feels extra gratifying to get a good deal? 

Needed repairs are visible

Are you concerned about draughts, poor window seals, and lack of insulation? Guess what? Old man winter makes those issues harder to disguise than Rudolph’s red nose.

No sellers will be pulling the wool over your eyes (or your inspector’s eyes) at this time of the year.

Seasonal reality checks

That corner lot you think you love and want to buy? It doesn’t come with a self-shovelling sidewalk. That will be your responsibility and you may find yourself uttering expletives and simultaneously crying as you angrily shovel pile after pile of snow every winter.

I know I’m not alone here. This is likely something that wouldn't even cross your mind if you were looking at a beautiful corner lot while basking in the soft caress of a spring breeze. Winter provides your reality check.  

Utility cost budgeting

Utility costs are higher in the winter than any other time of year. It’s expensive to keep a home warm. As a buyer, obtaining copies of the most recent utility bills will help you budget for what’s to come during the most expensive months.

Just be aware that if you see a well-used recliner, slippers at the entrance, and an alarm clock on the bedside table, those are signs they may be frugal (based on my completely subjective opinion). Before they turn up the heat, they’ll want to see you with two pairs of socks on, four sweaters, a toque, and shivering uncontrollably.

Sound like Grandpa? Add a couple of hundred dollars to that bill, or simply toughen up, as he may tell you. 

Less competition

The weather may be getting colder but the Airdrie real estate market is hot right now. Inventory levels are very low, which means homes are selling fast. With talk of interest rates rising, now really is a great time to buy.

Come spring, you will likely see a lot more buyers wanting to enter the housing market, creating further competition. Use any advantage you can and get ahead by starting your search now. Just remember to bundle up!

Here is my final piece of advice for prospective homebuyers in the winter; remember that once the snow falls, a lot gets covered up, including the neighbours' disastrous backyard.

Look for other clues, like what's on their front porch or whether the driveway is shovelled, and don't be afraid to ask for summer photos of the subject property. 

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