You may have heard that it’s never a bad time to buy a house. There’s a bit of sound logic there – houses tend to appreciate over time, and you need a place to live, so buying a house is usually a good investment. That all said, the best time to buy anything isn’t any time – there are specific moments you should pick. Is there a best time to buy a house? Absolutely. That time, however, will depend on a number of different circumstances, be they regional or personal.
The housing market is profoundly affected by seasons. During the spring and summer, there are a lot of people looking for new homes. Moving is easier at this time of year than in the winter, and it gives families time to adjust to their new surroundings before kids go back to school. That means there’s a lot of supply and demand. In the winter, conversely, housing prices may be lower, but the selection is often limited.
The best time to buy a house, then, tends to be in late summer and early fall. You’ll see quite a bit of supply on the market, but a lot less demand; basic economics says that will mean good deals for you.
Seasons, of course, don’t occur the same way everywhere – buyers on Vancouver Island will probably see fewer price fluctuations than buyers in Manitoba because the change in the weather is far less drastic.
Now we come to what may be the most controversial part of this post: you should buy a house during an economic downturn. This, of course, will depend heavily on your personal financial situation (more on that later). Realistically, the adage “buy low, sell high” applies to all markets – including the housing market. Those who bought homes during the 2008 downturn have gained a lot of equity in that time; housing prices have shot up in the last 12 years. Have the assets to wait for a downturn? Be patient.
There are several other regional factors, including mortgage rates and other financial considerations, that will affect the best time to buy a house. Opt to buy when interest rates are relatively low if you can – lock in those interest rates.
All of this might go out the window if you happen to see an extremely good deal outside of the guidelines we’ve just laid out. When you’re looking for a home, it’s in your best interest to always be browsing sales – you’ll know a good deal when you see one.
The most important factors to consider are personal factors. Is it the right time to buy a home? There are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Are there changes in your lifestyle or family situation that are prompting the move?
- Are you buying the house as an investment property or as a place to live?
- Are you going to be moving to a new neighborhood or city?
- What’s your financial situation?
All of these factors and more can influence whether you should buy a house, rent, or find some other arrangement. Moving to a new city or country is going to involve a number of costs that you wouldn’t have to pay out otherwise. That said, if you need to move to a new city because of your career or other factors, you may have help fronting those expenses.
When looking at the financial costs of a new home, the neighborhood you’re going to live in can play a huge part in your costs outside of the cost of the home itself. Different locations have different property taxes. You’ll also want to account for how far you’ll have to travel to get to work, get groceries, get your kids to school, or go about any other essential activities. These costs add up and should be considered when you’re looking to buy a home.
You’ll also want to look at your overall debt; you generally shouldn’t buy a home if you’re already saddled with other debts; you may get a less appealing mortgage offer. That said, taking on a home as debt isn’t nearly as bad as credit card debt because houses tend to appreciate in value. Debt management as new homeowners can be tricky as there can be a glut of unexpected costs – leaky roofs, old appliances, and more.
The best time to buy a home, then, is when you’re in a stable financial situation and your life circumstances have changed in a way that makes homeownership appealing. Investing in a home can be a great idea, but you might invest in something else instead. Globe Property Management notes that there are circumstances in which renting and pursuing non-home investments can actually lead to better returns on investment. Speak with a financial advisor if you want to get into greater detail.