When it comes to buying real estate, it's really mostly about location. But second in line? That would be timing.
It's true: Buying conditions can look vastly different from one year to the next -- heck, even one week to the next. Prices vary, competition ebbs and flows, inventory fluctuates, mortgages rates rise and fall. All of it can influence what homes you have to choose from -- and how much you'll pay to buy them.
Are you considering buying a house in the near future? Here are the best times to pull the trigger.
Generally speaking, spring is the time to buy. It's when housing is hottest and prices tend to rise the most. In fact, buyers pay an 11.5% premium over the median home value for that time period. to buy in May, according to property analytics firm ATTOM Data Solutions. Other pricey months include June, July, and April.
If you wait until the fall or winter, though, you'll find much more affordable prices. As the weather cools, so do home prices. ATTOM's data shows October, December, November, January, and February are the five best months to buy a house. As ATTOM's report puts it, "Prices fall as winter nears."
October takes the cake when it comes to affordability. According to ATTOM's analysis, which included more than 33 million home sales during the past eight years, buyers pay just a 2.9% premium.
"The housing market is full of surprises, and while demand is still hot, prices tend to cool in October," ATTOM reports. "The month of October is proving to offer the best bang for your buck."
There are some regional variation, however. If you live in Delaware, your best month to buy is February -- and it will actually save you about 7.9%. Tennessee and Ohio's best month to buy is January, New Jersey's is February, and Maryland's is November.
Day: Dec. 5
If you want to really get the best deal, try to buy your house on Dec. 5, according to ATTOM. The day after Christmas (Dec. 26) and Jan. 6 are next in line, with Nov. 9 and Dec. 31 rounding out the top five.
On the other hand, the worst days to buy are in the summer -- mid-to-late May, to be exact. On May 23 and 27, you'll pay a whopping 17.4% more. May 20, May 16, and May 19 also come with a hefty premium.
Timing is important but not everything
Patience really might pay off -- at least when it comes to buying a house. But keep in mind that real estate is highly local. These days, months, and seasons might not be the best (or worst) in your area, so check with a local real estate agent for on-the-ground insights if you're looking to buy. They'll have a firm handle on area market conditions -- as well as how they might affect your purchase and eventual return on investment.