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When Is the Best Time to Buy a House?

Best time to buy a house.

When buying a house, wouldn’t it be awesome if you had the widest selection and the lowest prices to choose from—and everything was lined up perfectly for when you were ready to move?

That’s the dream. The problem is, it’s not easy to time when home prices will be low and the number of homes for sale (or inventory) will be high. Even if you could, you’d have to be in the right place in your ever-changing season of life and financial situation.

To help you feel confident in finding the best time to buy your house, we’ll walk you through typical housing market patterns and show you how to determine your own financial readiness. That way, you’ll be set up for success as you take on one of the biggest purchases of your life.

Ready? Let’s do this!

What Is the Best Month to Buy a House?

If we’re going “by the book,” the best month to buy a house is typically considered August or September—when home prices get lower and inventory is still high. But keep in mind, no one can predict real estate trends with 100% accuracy. So never let what month it is make or break your home-buying decision—only your financial situation can truly determine the right time for you.

Worried about affording a house? Our free Home Buyers Guide will help.

With that said, in 2019, the best time to buy a house was probably around September—when existing home prices had a pretty nice drop of $7,000 and inventory was only down 10,000 homes. Compare that to buyers who waited until October—home prices only went down $1,000 and inventory dropped by 50,000 homes!1

To see these trends for yourself, check out the chart below:

Month (2019)

Home Price (Median)

Inventory (Millions)

January

$249,000

1.59

February

$250,000

1.63

March

$260,000

1.67

April

$267,000

1.83

May

$278,000

1.91

June

$285,000

1.92

July

$280,000

1.90

August

$279,000

1.83

September

$272,000

1.82

October

$271,000

1.77

November

$271,000

1.64

December

$275,000

1.39

January (2020)

$266,000

1.422

What Is the Cheapest Month to Buy a House?

Home prices are usually at their lowest in winter. January kicked off 2019 with the lowest median home price of the year at $249,000. And then, after rising all year, prices saw their greatest fall from December 2019 to January 2020—a drop of $9,000! So if the best time to buy for you means getting the lowest price, be sure to slip on your warm woolen mittens.

Keep in mind, winter is usually hibernation time for real estate—fewer houses are for sale during the busy holiday season (not to mention some regions have the cold and snow to deal with). Last year, the number of homes for sale saw its greatest drop from November to December—losing 250,000 homes from the market!

Super low inventory could make it harder to find a home that has all the features you want. But no worries—who really needs a jacuzzi in the master bathroom anyway?

What Month Do Most Houses Go on the Market?

Spring is when most houses go on the market. In 2019, the national amount of homes for sale shot up an additional 160,000 from March to April—the fastest rate of growth all year. That number kept growing each month and ended in June with the highest inventory of the year at 1.92 million home listings! So, if a jacuzzi and an outdoor fire pit is a must for you, spring is the time to shop.

On the downside, spring is also the busiest house-hunting season, so competition and prices will likely be at their highest. Last year, home prices shot up $11,000 from April to May and reached their highest point of the year in June at $285,000. But if you can budget for it, it’s often worth shopping when there’s an abundance of homes on the market to choose from.

Is a Recession a Good Time to Buy a House?

A recession isn’t necessarily a good or bad time to buy a house—again, it really depends on your financial situation. During a recession, the economy stops growing due to less activity related to buying and selling. Instead of things eventually hitting an upward swing, the economy shrinks for about six months—and the negative effects from this downturn can last a lot longer.

If a recession puts you at high risk of losing your job or your finances are out of whack, then it’s definitely a bad time to buy a house. But if your income is stable and you’re killin’ it with your finances, buying a house during a recession could actually land you a sweet deal—since prices are generally lower.

But Really . . . The Best Time to Buy Depends on You

One more time for the people in the back: Sure, you can try timing your home purchase just right to find the widest selection or pay the lowest price. But really, the best time to buy is when your finances are in order.

Here are the biggest signs you’re ready to buy a house:

  • You have zero debt and a big fat emergency fund. The biggest expenses that get in the way of people saving for a home purchase are all debt-related: student loans (51%), credit card debt (45%) and car loans (38%).3 Dump the debt and your income will be freed up to help with your home adventure!

  • Your house payment won’t be more than 25% of your take-home pay. This 25% limit includes principal, interest, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and, if your down payment is lower than 20%, private mortgage insurance (PMI). Plus, don’t forget to consider homeowners association (HOA) fees—if your new home is part of an HOA.

  • You’ve saved up a 10–20% down payment. Taking out a mortgage with a super low or no down payment will have you paying so much extra in interest and fees and keep you in debt for decades. Sure, it’s not popular to slow down and save up a bigger down payment. But it’ll protect you from a lifetime of stress and money fights in the long run.

  • You know how to choose the right mortgage. The overall lowest cost mortgage is a 15-year fixed-rate conventional loan. Beware of fancy mortgage products like ARM, FHA, VA, USDA and even a 30-year loan. They’re designed to help people who really aren’t financially ready to buy a house get one anyway—and then pay through the nose for it over the next few decades in the form of extra interest and fees.

  • You can handle homeownership costs. Most homeowners complete an average of nearly seven home maintenance projects in a year, costing a total of $1,100.4 Sadly, there’s no more landlord to fix things for you. Also, moving into a bigger space usually means your utility bill will be bigger too—so make sure you can budget for these things.

  • You plan on staying put for a while. All the up-front costs and work you’d put into getting a house probably won’t be worth the small amount of value you’d gain by living in it for only a short amount of time. But if you love your city and plan to stay put for at least several years, buying a house is a great investment!

If each of those statements sounds like you—congrats!—now could be the best time for you to buy a house. Get the ball rolling by getting preapproved for the right mortgage.

Find Your Best Time to Buy a House With Help From an Agent

If you want expert advice on whether now is the best time for you to buy, work with an experienced real estate agent who knows your market like the back of their hand. For a quick and easy way to find the top-rated agents in your area, try our free Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program. We only recommend agents who share our mission to serve you with excellence in crushing your financial goals.

Find a top-rated real estate agent in your area!

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Buy a House With an Agent Who Serves, Not Sells.

You need an agent who cares more about you than their commission check.
Find a Buyer's Agent

Buy a House With an Agent Who Serves, Not Sells.

You need an agent who cares more about you than their commission check.
Find a Buyer's Agent