Many people don’t think about shopping for a second home in these cold winter months, especially if they are looking to buy waterfront. BUT if you are looking to get a little more of a bargain, then “Tis the Season” to be shopping.
Typically real estate slows down as the months get colder. This is especially true at the beginning of the year, after the holidays have passed and many peoples budgets are a little tighter. During this time many sellers will be more flexible on their price, knowing that it’s not the prime season to sell.
With second homes, many owners don’t like the idea of having to pay for the high cost of heating during these cold months, if the house isn’t occupied. This is even more true with the higher cost of fuel. Often owners will get the property winterized to save money while others will often leave their homes (or cottages) lightly heated to prevent drywall from cracking or to keep other things from shrinking or expanding from the change in temperature.
Also, with today’s job market (especially here in Michigan, with the auto industry being in trouble), many people are looking to get out from under the extra payment of a second home. If a second home owner experiences a job lose or cut in pay, they often can’t they afford to keep their second home mortgage. When this occurs, sellers can sometimes find themselves in a major financial pinch. In some cases they may need to unload that second home in a hurry to prevent foreclosure. Therefore, they are more willing to take a cut on the fair market value price to move the property more quickly.
Another situation that I often run into is a retired couple (or person) deciding to sell their second home to get rid of the responsibility of maintaining two properties. This can often be a burden when health is failing or they simply don’t find the time or have desire to visit their second home anymore. Another reason might be the need for the extra money because of the lack of adequate income from retirement. Depending on their situation, they may or may not be as flexible on their selling price.
Some minor disadvantages of buying a second home during the colder months can range from discomfort of looking at homes (sometimes unheated) in the colder weather, to not knowing what the property actually looks like during the warmer seasons. If you are looking to buy waterfront property, in most cases (in this region of the U.S) the lakes and rivers can often be frozen over and you may not be able to get an idea of what the property might be like during the warmer months. The key to this is to do some research or have the seller (or real estate agent) provide some current photos of the property (and the waterfront) taken during the warmer months of the year. You’ll have to be the judge on whether you are comfortable with the information that is (or is not) provided, so that you can make an educated choice on whether you should entertain making an offer on a property. Sometimes you may want to wait until the spring to make your decision and hope that the property is still available at that time.
As for the advantages, you may be able to pick up a property at a much better price than you would during the prime selling season. Also, since the market is slower during these months, there will be less people looking at homes, therefore minimizing your chances of competing against other potential buyers. This creates a great buyers market for you!
So if you have been thinking about buying a second home, you may want to consider starting your search now. It may give you the leg up on getting a better deal in the long run.
Copyright 2006 Ivie Baker. You may republish this article in its entirety, only if you leave the author’s note & website hyperlinks intact.