Advantages of Buying a Home in Winter

Recent buzz in the real estate community exclaims that because of this year’s low inventory and historic low mortgage prices, competition among buyers is fierce. While experts predict the winter market will remain busy, it is expected to have less activity than the spring market, when even more buyers will be on the search. 

If you are ready to buy, whether you are looking for new construction or a resale, read the rest of the blog to see the advantages to buying property in the winter!

Less Competition 

Generally in the winter months there are fewer buyers because not as many people are willing to go house hunting in cold weather. Close to 40% of all real estate transactions country-wide occur between the months of May and August. Due to fewer buyers remaining active in their search, it becomes easier to find a home you love – for a price you can afford. Fewer buyers also means fewer all-cash, over-asking offers, making your traditionally financed offer more appealing. 

Motivated Sellers

In the off months of the real estate calendar, sellers are often more motivated to get a deal done promptly. Many sellers putting their house on the market in the winter are not doing so because they want to, but because they have to. These cases are often ones of urgency, such as an unexpected job change or a death in the family. Real estate agents are also well aware of sellers’ motives during the slow winter months, knowing they are more likely to negotiate, whether it is on the sale price, closing costs, or closing date. 

Test Durability Through Harsher Weather

Visiting open houses in the summer seems ideal with warm weather and better lighting, but for those residing in New England, that can be a mistake. Seeing how a house weathers the winter climates, on the other hand, shows you the durability of a house. In the winter, some houses experience cracks in the foundation, frozen and cracked pipes, poorly insulated rooms, and weathered roofs. Continuing your home search in the winter means you can look for signs of weather-related issues. 

More Flexibility With Movers

As we all become accustomed to moving in slow motion in the winter, surprisingly the movers themselves do not. With a decrease in business, moving companies often incentivise using their business by offering discounted rates. It is also hard to beat the availability of movers in the winter, due to the lack of competition. This helps for booking the exact time you need to be out of your old home and into your new one!

Home Maintenance Checklist

Whether you move into a newly constructed home or one previously lived in, home maintenance is must. By staying on top of upkeep, your home will not only look and run more efficiently, but it will also help keep your resale value high.

Each year, plan on saving 1-3% of your home’s value for regular home maintenance. By sticking to a schedule, you protect your biggest investment while maintaining a comfortable living situation. 

Here are monthly and seasonal checklists to help you to keep your home in top shape. 

Monthly

Check the interior and exterior of your home every month. With a quick walkthrough, you can check off these items and help eliminate surprises down the road:

  • Clean HVAC filters and change furnace filters.
  • Clean faucet aerators.
  • Inspect drains and look for leaks.
  • Inspect grout and caulking.
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Clear indoor and outdoor air vents (including the kitchen vent hood).
  • Check water softener (if applicable).

Fall

When the temperatures are still moderate, get in as much yard clean up as you can, and prepare the home for winter:

  • Schedule another HVAC checkup.  You don’t want to realize there’s an issue after temperatures drop!
  • Inspect and clean the fireplace.
  • Clean gutters (after the leaves fall!).
  • Check the roof for missing shingles.
  • Check weatherstripping on doors and windows.  
  • Winterize exterior plumbing. 
  • Patch and seal driveway.

Winter

During the colder months of winter, pay attention to these interior needs: 

  • Touch up interior paint (as needed).
  • Clean grout in kitchens and bathrooms. 
  • Clean sink, tub, shower, and dishwasher drains.
  • Check the basement for leaks. 
  • Watch the roof for ice dams.
  • Check for drafts.

Spring 

As the weather begins to warm up, many people are eager for some fresh air and spring cleaning. In addition to a deep clean and yard cleanup, make sure you complete these tasks:

  • HVAC checkup by a professional. 
  • Inspect the roof, siding, and outdoor living spaces.  
  • Clean gutters.
  • Inspect driveway and walkways. 
  • Check for air leaks around doors and windows. 
  • Look for rotting wood or insect damage.

Summer

Complete these tasks early in the season so you can fully enjoy your summer:

  • Oil garage door and chain, and all door hinges.
  • Trim plants and hedges near the HVAC system.
  • Power wash exterior of the house.
  • Inspect foundation and crawlspace. 
  • Check sprinklers or lawn irrigation system. 
  • Check the damper in the fireplace.

Prepare Pipes for Winter

Whether we admit it or not, winter is coming, and it won’t be long before the first frost!

So what does that mean for your home? 

Winterize. 

Winterizing plumbing pipes is a process that prevents cracks and leaks by preparing pipes for freezing temperatures. Freezing temperatures tend to cause excess water within the pipes to freeze and expand, often causing damage.

Preparing for Winterization

Winterizing is most commonly recommended when a home is left vacant for an extended period of time, with no water running through pipes. This process ensures you don’t have any structural damage done to your plumbing system. 

The process entails emptying the water heater, draining all water from the pipes, and filling all fixtures with an antifreeze solution. Here are seven simple steps to winterizing:

  1. Shut off the main water valve, then turn off the water pump and water heater.
  2. Open all drain valves and taps.
  3. Blow excess water out of the pipes using an air compressor.
  4. Open the drain in your hot water tank and let it discharge until empty.
  5. Drain all the water left in the holding tanks, especially the one used along with the tank to build pressure. 
  6. Flush toilets to remove as much water as you can from the tanks and the toilet bowls.
  7. Check all sinks and tub drains that could have drain traps, and add antifreeze to prevent water from freezing and cracking within the traps.

How to Prevent Freezing Pipes 

It is important to know about your home, inside and out. Before winter each year, check for poorly insulated areas and pipes located on exterior walls or by windows. It is also recommended to inspect your home for any cracks or holes in any exterior walls, floors, and ceilings. If any blemishes are found, simply caulk them to keep the cold air from entering. The key is to control indoor environments by keeping your home secure and adequately insulated. 

Here are some extra tips to prevent frozen pipes:

  • Insulate pipes with insulation sleeves, using slip-on foam pipe insulation.
  • Inspect the exterior of the property to ensure all visible cracks are sealed. 
  • Maintain a heating source inside the home to protect pipes from cold.
  • Maintain a slow faucet drip, allowing the water to flow freely and continuously. 
  • Drain outdoor hose bibs and insulate them with covers.
  • Heat tape can also be used to winterize plumbing. 

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