Spring and summer are the seasons when both the weather and the real estate market heat up, and the market tends to favor sellers. Winter, on the other hand, typically means a buyer’s market – if you don’t mind getting out in the cold and snow to do some house hunting. But winter buying also has some pitfalls, usually in the form of certain assumptions and a lack of circumspection on the part of buyers. So here are some important things to watch out for when buying a home during the winter in Northern Virginia.
Assuming You’ll Easily Score a Sweet Deal
Buying a home during the winter in Northern Virginia can net you a sweet deal, but it won’t just fall into your lap (usually). Home prices are lower, sellers are motivated, and competing bidders are home by the fire. Could there be any better conditions for a bargain-basement deal, you think? This kind of thinking will often lead to disappointment because you will still have to make a competitive offer. And in most cases, you will have to go through the negotiations process to get concessions.
Forgetting About Holiday Debt
Buying a home during the winter also means buying a home when you may have racked up considerable holiday debt. Just don’t leave that out of the account – because your lender won’t. Even if you have good credit, taking on a bunch of holiday debt will alter your debt-to-income ratio and change how much your bank will loan you. So if you plan to buy a home during the winter, be careful about that holiday debt. Otherwise, you may have to pass on the home you really want.
Failing to Visualize
It’s also possible that you pass over a house you would really like because you failed to visualize its full potential. Keep in mind that most properties will look pretty drab on dreary winter days. What you need to do is use your imagination to visualize it with the sun shining, the grass green, the trees leafed out, and flowers blooming. Even the interior can appear drab with only weak winter light coming in the windows. Just don’t fall into this imagination-less trap.
Not Taking into Account Closing Delays
Another thing to watch out for when buying a home during the winter in Northern Virginia is not taking into account possible closing delays. There are all the holidays to contend with, as well as snow, sleet, and ice. And what if the seller has to make repairs that the inspection found necessary? Many tradesmen like plumbers, roofers, and electricians take extended vacations during the winter. Not planning for such delays can cause a lot of frustration when you are trying to close. So when you set up closing dates, be sure to have some contingency plans that will allow you to work around these kinds of unavoidable delays.
Making a Lowball Offer
Buying a home during the winter can definitely work in your favor, but you can’t be too presumptuous and go around throwing out insulting lowball offers. You still have to make reasonable offers and bring to bear negotiating skills, either yours or your agent’s. A lowball offer can be offputting to sellers who may reject your offer outright and send you on your way – and you may thus miss out on a good deal, even your dream home. This is where you need to work with your agent to craft a competitive offer that isn’t insulting but keeps you from overpaying.