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11 Things to Consider Before Buying a Home in Winter

By Thomas O'Shaughnessy | March 11, 2024

Buying a home in the wintertime has several pros and cons. For one, there is less competition, and that could help you get a better price on a home. The cold weather also allows you to see if a home is properly insulated and maintained.

On the other hand, there may be fewer homes to choose from, and if you live in an area with harsh winters, it might be a challenge to view homes and inspect them.

However, if you're aware of the risks and are willing to stay flexible and open-minded, it's possible to find a home you love, even in the colder months. Here are 11 things to consider before making an offer on a home in the wintertime.

Limited inventory

There is typically less inventory in the winter, meaning there are fewer houses for sale. If you’re looking for a very specific size or style of house, you might have fewer options than if you were buying in the spring or summer.

It helps to be vigilant when checking listings. You can also ask your real estate agent if he or she has access to off-market properties or knows of any homeowners who are selling a house without a Realtor and are struggling to attract buyers.

Energy costs

Before you buy a home in winter, see if the home has energy-efficient appliances. Also find out when the heating and cooling systems were last replaced and how often they've been maintained. You may need to replace the windows, as well, if there are drafts throughout the house. 

Additionally, older homes might not have up-to-date insulation, which means higher energy costs. Energy costs can add up, and it’s a good idea to consider them before making an offer on a home. Ask the homeowners for a record of their heating and cooling bills to see if the costs are within your budget.

Roof condition

If you live in an area that has frequent snow, rain, or ice, check the condition of the roof. The repeated accumulation of snow in the winter can wear down roofs and create maintenance issues, such as flooding.

If you make an offer on a house, ensure the inspector goes onto the roof to check for sagging areas, damaged shingles, or water damage. If an inspector does find problems, you can always ask the homeowner to make repairs prior to closing. 

Natural light

Winter is actually a great time to see a home’s natural light. The days can be dark and dismal, but a home that has ample natural light can feel more inviting and even bigger. 

When you are looking for a home during the winter, notice which ones are bright and welcoming. Chances are, you'll enjoy even more natural sunlight when the days get longer in the spring and summer.


In areas prone to frequent snow or ice, pay attention to how accessible a home is. Examine the parking options, the size of the garage, and whether you have space to back into a parking spot safely. 

Some homes have long or steep driveways. In that case, look into how much it will cost to maintain. Ask the homeowners whether they plow the driveway themselves or if they hire a service. If homeowners use their own equipment, you can ask for the tools to be included in the sale.

Negotiation power

Depending on where you live, you might have more power to negotiate in the winter because there are usually fewer home buyers during that time. From agent commission rates to the price of a home, everything in real estate is negotiable. If you aren't able to negotiate on the price of the home, you may be able to ask for contingencies or financial help with closing costs. 

Decorating distractions

In the winter, many homes might be decorated indoors and outdoors for the holidays. Don't let the decorations distract you from potential underlying issues. Look past the sparkling lights and turn a critical eye to how closely the house is maintained. Also make sure the layout of the home is what you want.

Moving in the cold

Whether you are moving across the country or to a different house in the same neighborhood, moving in winter has its challenges, especially if the weather doesn't cooperate. Call moving companies and ask for quotes so you're aware of how much it will cost. Also ask about their cancellation policy in case there is inclement weather on the day of your move.

Children switching school districts

If you have kids in school, buying a new house in the wintertime could mean moving them to a different school district in the middle of the school year. This might be disruptive to their education and their social life. Take this into consideration when looking for houses. If there's not a home in your desired school district, it might not be a good time to move.

Less market data

There is less inventory during the winter, which means there is less market data. This might make it more challenging for real estate agents to price a house correctly, which could affect appraisal data and more.

Closing delays 

From getting an appraisal to finalizing the mortgage loan, there are many steps that must be completed before closing on a home. If you want to close on a house quickly, there might be more delays in the winter because of the weather. 

Unfortunately, home sales do fall through from time to time, and sometimes it's out of your control. However, having a contingency plan is a good idea when closing on a home in the winter.

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