There can be advantages to buying a home during the winter. When the weather turns cold, there is typically a smaller pool of buyers offering on properties, making it less likely that they will enter bidding wars.
Less competition can be a game changer, especially when considering the intensity of the seller’s market the past few years. That being said, buying a home in the winter can pose challenges. It can be difficult to assess a house that is blanketed with snow, creating potential risks for buyers who may not have a clear picture of the property that they are purchasing. To avoid unexpected headaches and costs, It is important to look closely at the following when house hunting during the winter.
Exterior of the Home and the Yard
The home’s driveway, sidewalks and outdoor steps should be shovelled so that their condition can be assessed. It is a good idea to ask the homeowner for summer pictures of the yard and gardens and any outdoor features, such as pools, hot tubs, sprinkler systems, etc.. Buyers have the right to know exactly what they are purchasing. It is also wise to request copies of receipts and proof of maintenance records to ensure that pools and hot tubs have been cared for properly and are in good working order when the house closes. Be cautious and have a closer look when the perimeter of the house and downspouts and gutters are full of leaves, debris, ice and snow, all of which may impede proper drainage in the cold months and cause a backup of water or moisture during the spring thaw.
Snow Covered Roof
A visible inspection of shingles may not be possible if the roof is under a blanket of snow. An inspector may be able to shed light on the condition of the roof by taking a good look in the attic. The inspector will look for signs of moisture and will also be able to rule out any issues regarding the structural integrity of the framing. The weight of the snow will cause sagging if the wood is not able to properly hold the load.
Interior Temperature and Humidity
Another red flag in the winter is large temperature differences between rooms. If one room is toasty but your breath is visible in another room, be wary of ventilation issues that may need to be addressed. If a room is cold, look for gaping or splitting in hardwood floors which indicates that there are problems as cold air typically dries out rooms and reduces humidity levels causing shrinkage. If walls are cold to the touch, they are likely poorly insulated which may lead to chilly, drafty rooms. Pay attention to windows and doors and check for broken seals. If windows are condensing, it is likely that a seal is broken and cold air is entering the interior of the home.
Even though there is less competition in the winter and buyers have a better chance of having offers accepted, winter home buying presents a few challenges. It is important to be informed of the risks of buying a home when it is under snow. Knowing what to look for may help you avoid potential issues and costs.