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The best time to buy a home could be right now

A new analysis of U.S. home sales from 2013 to 2021 found that the fall and winter months were the best times to buy.

A sale sign stands outside a home in Wyndmoor, Pa. According to new analysis from Attom, the best time to buy a home in Pennsylvania is December.
A sale sign stands outside a home in Wyndmoor, Pa. According to new analysis from Attom, the best time to buy a home in Pennsylvania is December.Read moreMatt Rourke / AP

If you’re looking to buy a home, the right time could be right now.

A new analysis of U.S. home sales from 2013 to 2021 found that October had the lowest average premiums of any month, followed closely by the fall and winter months.

The analysis from Attom, a firm specializing in real estate and property data for more than 155 million properties in the country, used data from any day with more than 10,000 home sales.

“We took a look at what people pay for properties relative to list prices at various times of the year and the lowest premium over list price tends to happen in the fall and winter months,” Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence at Attom, explained.

Alban Xhema, a licensed real estate salesperson in Philadelphia, said less competition during the end of the year can make buyers’ offers more attractive but notes that low inventory also may make buyers more willing to jump on a property if they’re home shopping during this time.

“I don’t think sellers are any more willing to make concessions in the fall or winter,” Xhema said, adding that the fewer buyers who are shopping create competition among themselves.

Still, when you’re making the most attractive offer out of five instead of out of 15, your chances of sealing the deal are higher.

» READ MORE: Large investors are increasingly buying up homes in Philly. Here’s what that means for owners and renters.

“That’s what I think is really the main driver: You have less buyers raising the price, coming in with better terms, coming in with better financing, or having more cash to put down,” Xhema said.

The best time to buy a home in Pa. and N.J.

Attom’s analysis also took a look at the best time to buy in every state.

In Pennsylvania, “it’s a little later in the winter than in other parts of the country, but basically from fall on is when you get the best deals,” Sharga said. December was the best time to buy in the Keystone State, according to Attom, with a 0.9% discount off market value.

Sales in New Jersey saw prices fall the most in February, when they dipped 3.9% below market value. That was the steepest discount of any month in any state.

COVID’s effects on the data

Because Attom’s data extended so far before COVID hit, it gives a particularly clear view of which trends shifted during the pandemic.

“We did see a change in seasonal patterns,” Sharga said.

» READ MORE: Home buyers this summer saw mortgage rates swing up and down more than at any time since 1987

After losing the spring and summer home-selling season in 2020, “we saw a lot of unusually strong home sales in the latter half of the year,” he said, noting some “side effects that you wouldn’t have normally expected to see in the housing market that time of year.”

Sharga said most families tend to search for houses during the spring and summer after school lets out. The pandemic changed that for some.

» READ MORE: More home buyers are considering adjustable-rate mortgages as interest rates rise

“A lot of people just opted to move when they could find something they could afford to buy in a place where they wanted to live” while they were working from home, he said. “Historically … a very high percentage of homeowners and families tend not to like to disrupt kids in the middle of the school year. [Now] people were moving in a job-related manner rather than around the school year.”

That shift in when people were buying, however, didn’t affect pricing trends, Sharga said.

“There still was some seasonality in pricing even though the prices were all going up. They would just go up a little bit slower in the fall winter months,” he said.