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home in winter

5 tips for buying a home in winter

Are you thinking about buying a home in winter? Entering the housing market this season will be a unique experience, as we deal with interest rate uncertainties and the traditionally slow winter market. If you’re unsure how to best prepare, that’s where we come in! Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for purchasing a home this winter.

#1 Don’t take the slower season for granted

Traditionally, the winter months are the slowest time for buying a home. Demand tends to drop off, competition lowers, and housing prices can deflate too. This all sounds excellent for buyers, and it can be. However, don’t automatically assume this will be the case. It’s important to be prepared for tricky market conditions, even if you don’t really expect to face them. You don’t want to underestimate the time and work buying a home in winter takes, or the possibility of more competition and higher prices than you were expecting. When you’re preparing to enter the market, make sure you accept the possibility that it will be busy and stressful. Be sure to have an appropriate down payment saved up, and a real estate agent on your team to help you find properties. In short, don’t minimize the importance of thorough preparation!

#2 Consider how interest rates come into play

Next week, the Bank of Canada will make its first interest rate announcement of 2023. We left 2022 after seven consecutive rate hikes and an overnight rate of 4.25 per cent. We can’t be certain what will happen next week, but there are rumours another rate increase might be in store. The rate hike cycle is coming to a close, but it might not be fully over. With that in mind, let’s consider how interest rates might impact your purchase this winter. You will be working with higher rates than we have seen in recent years. Although the winter market may be slower, it will be more expensive to borrow. This could affect your purchasing power and your budget. A mortgage broker can show you today’s interest rates and how they will affect your plans to buy.

#3 Remember what you can’t see

Winter can really impede your vision of what a home truly looks like. Between snow, sleet, wind, and rain, winter is a pretty gloomy backdrop for house hunting. Beyond the atmosphere, the snow also blocks your view of key aspects of the home. For instance, snow can lay over a house’s roof and yard, preventing you from inspecting their condition. You won’t know at a glance if the roof has damaged or missing shingles, or if the yard is overgrown with weeds or full of cracked pavement. You also won’t get a chance to see how any outdoor water sources operate, or if outdoor pipes are in good condition. We can’t stop the elements, so these barriers are something buyers have to deal with when they’re looking for a home in winter. However, there are a couple of steps to help protect yourself. First, ask the sellers for photos of the home’s yard, roof, and any other exterior features from a warmer season. Second, don’t forget to get a home inspection! A home inspector will reveal if there are any issues with the home that the snow is covering up, allowing you to make a decision on your next steps. Inspections can save you big money and headaches.

#4 Remember what you WILL see

On the other hand, it’s important to consider how the home will look after winter is over, this time in a positive way. While it’s good to be particular and critical about your buying choices, don’t let the winter months be the reason you miss out on a great house. It’s harder to fall in love with a home when the sky is grey and gloomy, the yard looks dead, and inside the house is dark and chilly. However, keep in mind you’re viewing homes at one of the least attractive times of the year. Think about how the spring and summer will boost the property’s look. Brighter skies, more light, and a healthy yard will all be in your grasp in the coming months. Your green grass and nicely decorated back deck will improve the home’s image too. If the home has this kind of potential, don’t write it off immediately!

#5 As always, use a broker

Finally, a mortgage broker should be a key part of your plans to buy a home in winter. The winter market this year is a balancing act between high interest rates and the naturally slower winter season. Both can affect your budget, and both are essential to understand. Sitting down with a broker will give you an idea of what the current market looks like, and the conditions you’ll be dealing with. Brokers can walk you through mortgage products that might suit you, and how to make the best impression on lenders in a winter market.

Buying a home in winter will have its advantages, as well as some potential obstacles to clear. It’s important to be prepared for changing market conditions as we move through this season, and to let a broker guide you. We can help you secure the best product this winter so you can start packing up for your big move!

If you have any questions about your mortgage, get in touch with us at Clinton Wilkins Mortgage Team! You can call us at (902) 482-2770 or contact us here.

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