Take Advantage of the Cold – Go Look for a Home!

 You’ll look at a home differently in the cold and snow compared to the warm weather – and that’s not a bad thing!
    This might not sound like the optimal thing to do on some of these extremely cold winter days that the country is seeing now. But it could prove to be successful for buyers who are willing to endure the chilly weather.Traditionally, the buying season is significantly less busy during the holidays and even into the new year. When temperatures hit the freezing mark, many people aren’t inclined to go outside if they don’t have to. However, if you can bear it, you might find that there are some excellent house-hunting opportunities due to fewer house-hunters.Just understand that you might not be able to get a full picture of the landscape, especially if it’s blanketed in snow or frost. But while the curb appeal might not be as attractive, there are other things that you can focus on that you might not have paid as much attention to in much warmer weather. For instance, the fireplace. There’s a good chance you’ll see it in action if there’s an open house. You can also really experience how well the heating system functions. You’ll have the ability to see if there are cold drafts in the home or damp areas that might indicate issues with insulation or weatherstripping.Of course, visiting the home during some inclement weather will also give you an idea of what your life will be like there during the cold season. You’ll be able to see how icy the roads get and If they get shut down or if snowplow service is available and what it costs. You’ll have the opportunity to take a look at how neighbors keep up their homes during winter and whether this is an area that suits your lifestyle.When you’re shopping for a home in the cold winter months, you’ll find that you’re likely competing with serious buyers. If you’re not serious about buying a home, why would you endure looking in the cold weather?That’s why it’s even more important for buyers to have a clear picture of their financing for the home. Know how much home you can afford. Understand what your must-have items are and what things you’re willing to compromise on or do without.

Be serious about your house-hunting. You probably don’t want to spend any more time than necessary out looking in the cold. So, clearly communicate to your real estate agent the neighborhoods and house types that you’re interested in. Also, provide as many details as you can about your lifestyle and those who will be living with you. This helps the agent get a better understanding of the type of home you want and need. For instance, is an elderly relative possibly going to move in with you in the next year or two?

Giving that information can help the agent make suggestions about homes that are adaptable for extended-family living. That also could change the income coming into your home. Some extended-family members buy the home together and yet the eldest might not move in for a couple of years. But doing this allows the family to purchase a larger home that’s better suited to handle extended family, when the time comes.

Cold weather house-hunting can bring some bargains because sellers might be eager to get their homes sold. However, that’s not necessarily the case for markets where the weather stays relatively warm even in these brutally cold spells that the rest of the country endures.                         Phoebe ChongchuaRealty Times Columnist 01/10/2014


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