The Best Time Of The Year To Buy Property

Worst Time To Sell Property Best Time To Buy

The best time of the year to buy property is when nobody else is looking to buy property. With less competition, you can potentially get a better deal.

Therefore, the best time of the year to buy real estate is during the winter months – specifically late November, December, January, and early February. The rainier, snowier, and colder, the better!

Conversely, the worst time to try and sell property is also during the winter months. Listing your property around the holidays and during the middle of winter may signify desperation.

Savvy buyers know that if a seller wasn't desperate, the seller could easily wait 3-4 months and list during the Spring when buyers come out in full force. The same thing for sellers listing during the middle of shelter-in-place versus waiting until open houses are allowed again.

The Best Time Of The Year To Buy Property: Winter Months

The best months of the year to buy property are: December, January, and February. Conversely, these are also some of the worst months to find renters if you plan to be a landlord.

Here are the reasons why winter is the best season to buy real estate:

Fewer People Are Buying.

December through January are prime holiday months. The last thing anybody wants to do during Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's is to shop for a house. The weather is generally also the worst during this time of the year.

Meanwhile, due to traditional company budget spending cycles, there're fewer job turnovers and relocations. Given these factors, your competition to find that perfect property goes way down.

More Motivated Sellers.

Given we all know that the holidays are between November and January, the act of listing property during this time period indicates the seller is desperate. By waiting until February or March to list, a seller greatly increases the pool of potentials buyers.

By listing between November and January, however, the seller may very well be shouting, “I can't wait! I need your money now!” Thus, as a buyer, you have a much better chance of winning a lowball offer.

See The Property At Its Worst.

If you like the property during the middle of winter, then you should love the property during all the other seasons. Winter is when a property is subjected to the harshest conditions.

You should test insulation, working pipes, the HVAC unit, the windows, the roof, and everything that get stressed during the winter. Here are 10 warning signs to look for before buying a house.

People have poor imaginations, which is why staging a home is big business. Your job as a buyer is to look beyond the shaggy green rug. Discover the beautiful oak wood floors underneath.

When you can see the property at its worst and when it is facing the harshest winter elements, this is when you will have the most confidence to buy. Water damage from leaky pipes or roofs is the most common type of property damage. Therefore, you want to inspect the house with contingencies during the winter seasons. If all checks out, you have greater confidence in going forward with the purchase.

What About The Lack Of Property Supply?

Plenty of homes for sale during Winter - best time of year to buy a home
Plenty of homes for sale during Winter 2019/2020 in SF

As a buyer, please know there are still plenty of homes to choose from in December, January, and February.

One quick look on Zillow or Redfin will show plenty of homes for sale. Are you telling me you can't find one home in the map you'd find desirable? Of course you can!

I've often seen agents, who because they are anxious to get a listing, will convince sellers to list during the winter because there are fewer competing homes on the market.

While I can see the merit in this selling point, over the past 20 years of observing the markets in San Francisco, New York, and Lake Tahoe, it's almost always the case that demand for homes in the Spring, Summer, and Fall has far outstripped the increase in new listings before and after winter.

This winter is especially a good time to hunt for deals. The housing market has frozen over since mortgage rates have skyrocketed. But inflation is down tremendously since a peak of 9.1% in mid-2022. Hence, it's just a matter of time before mortgage rates decline and pent-up demand for real estate gets unleashed. I expect that time will come in 2024.

If you can successfully make a low-ball real estate offer for 10% – 20% below April 2022 prices, I think you're going to do great long run. If mortgage rates decline, you can refinance and save.

Don't List Your Property During The Winter

Even if your home is amazing, listing it during the winter months may carry a stigma. Further, you won't be able to attract families with children. This is because most of the time these families only move during the summer.

The biggest knock to a property is that once it stays on the market for over 60 days it becomes “stale fish.” Stale fish properties lose their emotional connection with potential buyers. Buyers start wondering what is wrong with the property. When buyers no longer feel emotionally connected, they stop making offers.

The best time to buy property is also the worst time to sell. People are creatures of habit. They will make new year's resolutions to buy property. They will also tend to look for ways to spend their year-end bonus money, which often gets paid in February and March.

It is very hard to be a real estate buyer in December or January when your bonus money has not hit your bank account yet.

Monthly price movement of real estate by year - 48-year average versus 2023 prices- best time of the year to buy real estate

Real Estate Price Performance By Month

To determine the best time of the year to buy property, take a look at the real estate price performance by month.

Below is a great chart by the Federal Reserve and Census Bureau. It shows the median price and median days on market before closing for homes by month.

The best time to buy or sell a home
Source: Federal Reserve, Census Bureau, and Zillow

As you can see, properties listed in December, January, and February have the highest median days on market before closing. Hence, buying property during those months may offer more pricing discounts.

January has the lowest median sales price at closing and stays on the market the longest = the best time to buy a home. February is also a great time to buy a house as well.

Conversely, June is the worst month to buy a property due to its highest median sales price at closing and shortest days on market.

In addition to finding a home for sale during the depths of winter, you should also look for a sale due to a divorce, a job loss, or a liquidity crunch.

You can find such information out by simply inquiring with the hungry real estate agent eager to make a sale. Be opportunistic and take advantage of desperate scenarios if the math works. As a prodigious wealth accumulator, this is your sacred duty!

Best Month To Buy Property

Below is more great data by ATTOM Data Solutions. It shows the number of sales, median sales price, median estimated value, and premium by month from 2013 – 2020.

Best Month To Buy Property

Based on the data in the above chart, October is the best month to buy property because the Premium is lowest at 2.9%. Therefore, if you want to buy property, look in October, November, December, January, and February.

Real Estate Investment Suggestion

If you want to dollar-cost average in this current weak real estate market, take a take a look at Fundrise. Fundrise is a private real estate investing company that invests in single-family rentals in the Sunbelt. The investment minimum is only $10 and there are various diversified private funds to choose from.

Long-term, I believe in the growth of the Sunbelt region due to technology and work from home. The pandemic has accelerated the move for more people to live in lower-cost areas of the country.

Another established private real estate investing platform is Crowdstreet. Crowdstreet offers accredited investors individual deals run by sponsors that have been pre-vetted for strong track records. Many of their deals are in 18-hour cities where there is potentially greater upside.

If you want to get more surgical in your private real estate investments, Crowdstreet is a good solution. I've met the people at Crowdstreet on two separate occasions and came away impressed with their risk-management and product offerings. Just make sure to thoroughly review each sponsor as well.

Personally, I've invested $954,000 in real estate crowdfunding to diversify my SF-heavy real estate holdings and earn more passive income.


The Best Time Of The Year Or Best Month To Buy Property is a Financial Samurai original post. Join 60,000+ others and sign up for my free weekly newsletter for more content. I've been around since 2009.

46 thoughts on “The Best Time Of The Year To Buy Property”

  1. Every property I own was purchased in December or January, and each of them was a lowball offer. The seller’s are much more motivated during this time of year.

  2. Levi Armstrong

    Thanks for telling me that June is the worst month to buy a house since it has the highest median sale price. On the other hand, January has the lowest median sales price, making it the best time to buy a property. My friend Miley plans to buy a new house soon since she’s moving full-time to the city. I’ll share this with her.

  3. I like to go to open houses for fun to keep an eye on the market and get inspiration for remodeling ideas. Summer is definitely the season when all the buyers come out where I live. Things slow to a crawl during the winter and real estate agents always seem so much more eager to try and lure in buyers. I’m definitely shopping in winter when it comes time to upgrade to a new house down the road.

  4. Darrien Hansen

    Thanks for mentioning that you should buy a house during December since sellers typically need their money immediately during this time. My wife and I would like to use the money that we inherited from my uncle to buy a home so that we can start a family. We’ll be sure to purchase an affordable home this year to get the most out of our inheritance.

  5. Derek McDoogle

    It’s interesting that from November through January almost nobody is buying a house due to the holidays. My brother told me that he has been saving money to buy a house so that he doesn’t have to pay rent anymore. I will tell him to make sure that if he buys a house to make sure he gets a good deal.

  6. So, we have been shopping for a new build in the MD suburbs (close enough for a long commute to DC) and it actually seems like the opposite- the stir of the tax plan stirred up desire to snatch up homes over $500 k (before the deduction got raised to the 700’s). So now, here we are, trying to shop in Dec. in the last week before supposedly base prices increase, and it just doesn’t seem like anyone really wants to negotiate much or cut much of a deal. Is this odd? I would have thought too, that money now is better than money later, and most of the sales agents would be excited to squeeze out one last sale, but it’s like pulling teeth… which seems against what everyone is saying about shopping for real estate around the holidays. Could it be because it’s new build that it isn’t seeming to fall in line? Sadly, we don’t like any of the quick move in models…

    The only “rush” is that we think we wouldn’t be able to outsave the interest rate increases, and since we’d like to move within the next 2 years, we thought this might be our shot- the winter! We even walked a house on Christmas Eve!!!

  7. my wife is eager to buy investment property (already have a home with an inlaw we rent), nothing like physical assets for her (even though all our retirement $ is in stock/bond).

    I tell her to wait for winter of next year due to previous articles you’ve shared and other data points from real estate agent friends. However I’ve also heard (it’s not timing the market that’s important, it’s time in the market)

    Could you please dig deeper as to why wait?

    Thanks in advance!

  8. I liked the article, but it simply doesnt apply for Brazil. While the holiday does apply here, the winter does not. Do you have any advice for people living in tropical countries?

  9. I agree with your article. My daughter and I started looking in November when her lease was running out in May so it gave us lots of time to look, make offer and negotiate. What we found in Baltimore (Federal Hill, NOT where the Wire was filmed or riots took place) was a motivated seller, they lived out of town and owned 2 houses side by side, the one for sale had been vacant 8 months, so no rental income and price reduced several times. it didnt show well but all it needed was some cleaning and painting. We got the price reduce another 20k in negotiations and then another 10k for foundation issues found in inspection and settled in late February. 9 months later, my daughter is building equity and we have had no issues with the house.

  10. This is good information. I would also like to mention it’s good to look for houses where the owner died and the kids are selling. I saved 40% of the appraised value on the last home I bought. My low ball offer was countered with a $3,000 increase in price. I was ecstatic. My mortgage/taxes are less than 8% of my net pay.

    Keep up the good posts Mr. Samurai

  11. lifetimeandmoney

    Thanks Sam, helpful article. I’m actually in the process of buying a home in the Bay area, and despite the potential for prices to slow we still feel it may be a good time to buy to avoid our hefty rent payment… We think home prices might slow, but hard to believe they would drop substantially. I recently placed a bid 20% over the list price, and there were 15 others placing bids. Given that type of demand, it’s scary out there! We’re actually looking to buy in West Oakland since we can no longer afford SF, still sketchy but hoping 5 to 10 years from now W. Oakland will be the next Brooklyn…

    That said, I’ve seriously struggled with finding a good broker. I actually wish we could remove them from the process as I haven’t seen them add any value… It seems if you’re not paying all cash, you have to go through them and also face other restrictions when dealing with lenders (i.e., hard to buy multiunit property with 20% down). Any thoughts / advice? Do you have a good broker in the Bay who is a proponent of your spray and pray strategy? Have you thought of becoming a broker yourself?

    1. The best broker is YOU! Use your own hustle and scour for deals over the internet. Show up to each house you like, speak in depth with agents now, see if they can represent both and let you save some money.

      The house I own now was through my own hustle, and I got the selling agent to work with me on a lower price and better time frame to get the deal done for both parties. Cutting out at least ONE middle man is a no brainer!

  12. Sam, Winter is a great time to pickup investment homes! During 2010-2012 I snagged a couple investment homes in Vegas during the month of December when most investors slowed down their efforts (prior to this there were typically a dozen bids within 48 hours of a new listing). Escrow got delayed on one of them due to the holidays, but it wasn’t a big deal. I just wished I had picked up more. ;)

  13. Hi Sam,

    I have been following your site for a couple of months but this is going to my first comment.

    I am shopping for home in San Diego since summer and I actually have the opposite feeling. We are pretty specific on the properties we want to live, like the type, size, school district, # of bedrooms, noise level, etc. During the summer, there were still a lot of choices of properties and we were quite picky about them and we missed a couple of good ones. We heard before that if we wait till fall / winter, we may find better deals.

    However, as we entered fall / winter months, the inventory dropped substantially but there seem to be still a lot of buyers. What happens now is that whenever a new house comes onto the market, it will be gone in days, most likely right after the first weekend with multiple offers. The leftover properties are “crappy” properties nobody wants to touch, for example, houses with weird layout, or right next to the highway with strong traffic noise. We don’t want to buy those properties either. We lost some properties again, not because of our bidding is too low, but because of our bidding isn’t fast enough! As the inventory gets tighter and the buying frenzy not subsiding, I noticed that new listing prices are actually increasing! This is really in the contrary to the common belief that “winter is a good time to buy houses”.

    So my take on this topic is that if you are looking for a decent property as your primary residence, and if your market is hot, it is not a good idea to shop in winter time. I regret that I didn’t lock down some good properties during the “hot summer months”, where there were a lot many for me to choose from. On the other hand, if you are buying investment properties with no emotion attached, you can “spray and pray” with low-ball offers.

    While the rest of the country are experiencing the winter chill, we are still enjoy perfect sunshine and weather in San Diego. Maybe this is one of the reasons why the market is still very competitive here and maybe the high housing price is the price to pay living in one of the best climate!

    We are in the process of bidding for another property and this time, I have changed my mindset from looking for bargins to getting the shopping done. Probably we will overpay this time. If this one still doesn’t work out, we would probably just wait till the hot summer months and try again.

    1. That’s what I noticed in my shopping 3 years ago as well. I could have gotten a decent deal if I was looking for an investment property that needed some cosmetic work but for my home I’d have had to do things like change configurations. But I was shopping for my primary residence and didn’t want to take on that much of a project.

  14. I actually listed a property in Kansas City in January after I moved to California. The market in KC did not drop much in 2008-2009, so it was pretty stable at the time. Since my company was paying all of the costs, I had to list it right away. I got an offer in 6 days despite several inches of ice and snow on the ground! I was glad to unload even if it cost me a bit by not being able to wait until spring, but saving the realtor fees helped a lot.

    1. This is why the public is might be screwed.

      1) Don’t trust Huffpo. Look at the writer writing the piece. She has no idea, has probably never owned a home, and uses the word “apparently” in her title, demonstrating zero authority.

      2) Homes sales are SLOWEST during the winter months bc few people are buying. I’ll add a chart to show it if you don’t want to google it.

      3) Because home sales are slowest, firms like Redfin etc are incentivized to get more volume up in winter to make more money. It’s always a good time to buy or sell property as an agent or RE business. Remember this!

  15. I don’t find this article completely accurate all the time. Real Estate in the end is local. 3 years ago due to my job transfer timing I was shopping for a house this time of year. It was also the beginning of the recovery picking up speed in the area I was looking at. There were three listings in my price range in the city I bought in. In all I probably looked at 35-45 houses over 6 cities of them I only considered 5. The bulk of them were automatic nos and the “good” houses were selling quick because of the limited inventory in a mid level price range of $200,000 to $300,000. I might have found a diamond if I had months to look but I found that unless you are willing to wait winter is not always the best time.

    1. I should note even with paying pretty much list price for my place. I have made about $75,000 in 3 years. My neighborhood town is running hot right now although prices have adjusted a bit lower recently because more inventory has come online.

  16. Sam – This is a great article and I couldn’t agree more with your analysis. I bought the current townhome I’m living in back in January 2010. Not only was this deep in the winter, but people should recall that the housing market was in the toilet at that time. I found a place that had been on the market for over 100 days and a very motivated seller due to the fact that he was moving into a new build. I negotiated well and got them to drop their price considerably. On top of that, they asked to do a rent back for 60 days. By the time we closed, then did the rent back, and finally took possession, it was April and we didn’t even need to deal with winter weather for our move-in. We love the place and since purchasing, it has gone up in value by at least $50k and likely even as much as $75k based on recent comparable sales in the area. So far, buying this property in January, in the middle of a recession, was one of the best financial decisions I’ve made!

  17. Our family is currently selling our apartment building here in Southern California, where good-sized buildings are selling for record high prices. We’re in escrow now, with the contingency period just about to be lifted, and I am hoping like crazy that it goes through so we can close in mid-January and I can go bargain shopping for a triplex or fourplex of my very own. There is one that I’ve had my eye on for several months. It was listed toward the end of summer, and then they dropped the price right into my price range about a month ago. If it’s still on the market by January (fingers crossed), I might be able to get an even better discount. I’m just really hoping it stays on the market until then. The smaller properties (threes and fours) aren’t selling as fast as some of the bigger buildings, so there is a chance.

  18. I am on thr market for a rental property. I’ve got my eye on listings for the next couple months. Fingers crossed I get a good deal!

  19. Adam @

    We bought our first home in December and ended up $45k under list (on a $250k house). The owner’s weren’t happy but it was a slow period and one thing you didn’t mention – the parents were desperate to get to the new house so kids can start in January in the new school zone.

  20. I wonder if this holds in warmer places like Phoenix. I know I would not like to look at properties in 115 degree weather. But I would happily do it if the timing was right for scoring a sweet deal.

  21. The same 3 rules also apply to car buying. I buy all my vehicles in January and February. When it is 10 below outside and the dealers haven’t sold a car all week they are always willing to bargain. We’re currently looking at used 2015 denali’s. Brand new there 70k, right now you can get a slightly used one for mid 50’s. Come January I almost guarantee I’ll find one for 50k.

    I love bad weather when I make big purchases!!

    1. Totally agree with you on cars…I bought my used 911 first week of January slightly used $70k below msrp…three years later kbb is still higher than what I was able to purchase it got back then. BTW, you’ll love the new Denali, I’m going to drive the wheels off mine.

  22. Sam – This is a great article and I couldn’t agree more with your analysis. I bought the current townhome I’m living in back in January 2010. Not only was this deep in the winter, but people should recall that the housing market was in the toilet at that time. I found a place that had been on the market for over 100 days and a very motivated seller due to the fact that he was moving into a new build. I negotiated well and got them to drop their price considerably. On top of that, they asked to do a rent back for 60 days. By the time we closed, then did the rent back, and finally took possession, it was April and we didn’t even need to deal with winter weather for our move-in. We love the place and since purchasing, it has gone up in value by at least $50k and likely even as much as $75k based on recent comparable sales in the area. So far, buying this property in January, in the middle of a recession, was one of the best financial decisions I’ve made!

    1. Great job! I also did a rent back on a place I got into contract for end of 2004 for 2.5 months if I recall correctly. Have them pay the mortgage for a bit, while I find tenants for my old place. A win/win! Love rent backs!

      The funny thing is, you can usually get a better deal if a seller wants to do a rent back too.

  23. Back in 1999 when I bought my first place, I went looking right after a huge snowstorm. Not only was there a lot less traffic, that also meant that I basically got the full attention of my agent, as he really didn’t have many other potential buyers that were actively looking that week nor many showings of his own listings.

  24. Wow that is a crazy chart of all the homes on the market now! I’m so surprised there are so many. I agree that now is a good time to try and sneak in if you can find a nice property in your price range. Off peak is the way to go if you get lucky. It’s a bummer that the market is softening (as an owner) but that’s good news for buyers.

  25. Jim @ Route To Retire

    I agree wholeheartedly. I actually bought my primary residence in December and we were able to low-ball it and got it for a steal. More importantly, we’re now closing on a duplex next month (our second rental) and it was almost as if there was no competition out there. We were able to get it for a price significantly lower than asking along with some repairs made and some of the closing costs picked up.

    You can’t beat doing your Christmas shopping on presents that will pay you every month after you buy them!!

    — Jim

    1. I purchased my 3 investment props in Dec ,jan, and Feb. For sure best time to buy. by summer you will have definite equity.

  26. If you could wait until the Spring to list, you would… so the ones listing in the Winter are under duress and under duress is the best time to buy, hands down.

    While you’re at it, this is a great way to get appliances, furniture, etc. If someone needs to liquidate, they probably want to get rid of some of their stuff too. A friend got a dishwasher and several other appliances for very cheap because a guy was getting foreclosed on.

  27. I’ve been struggling with this. I have a higher end home near DFW that I recently moved from and am almost finished the cosmetic rehab. Should be ready to list in 2-3 weeks. When to list? The weather is more moderate here than some of the places you mentioned. It’s on a larger acreage, suited for cattle, recreation, and hunting, if that makes a difference.

    1. Jon,

      Don’t list in the middle of December. I would wait until February. You can roll the dice, but if the house becomes stale fish for whatever reason, it may suffer a death of a thousand cuts.

      Maybe pocket list it instead e.g. shop around privately without having it go on the MLS.


  28. I’m going home shopping this Black Friday! We’ll see how desperate sellers are. I’m definitely planning to lowball someone.

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