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The Best Time To Buy A Home This Year Is The First Week Of October

Did you know…. the best time to buy a home this year is the week of October 1-7, according to Realtor.com? The Best Week offers a balanced mix of market conditions that favor buyers relative to the rest of the year. Here’s a snapshot:

  • The 2023 homebuying season aligned with typical seasonal patterns, but ongoing affordability and inventory challenges mean the year’s market varies greatly based on locale.
  • Nationally, the best time to buy a home is the week of October 1-7. 
  • Active listing inventory has started to wane relative to last year’s surge as homeowners stay on the sidelines. Based on historical trends, the first week in October may see up to 17% more active listings than at the start of the year. Buyers are poised to save over $15,000 during this week compared to the summer peak for a median priced home of $445,000.
  • Buying after the peak week may net a buyer more savings, but buying earlier is likely to mean more fresh options to choose from. Thinking about your priorities as a buyer can help you decide when to start shopping

In 2022, still high home prices and climbing mortgage rates led to fewer homeowners choosing to list their home for sale. By July 2023, the number of homes listed for sale fell relative to the previous years as existing homeowners stayed on the sidelines to avoid trading in their current mortgage rate for a higher one. Despite lackluster inventory, in many markets, homes are spending more time on the market than in the last few years, meaning buyers may find sellers more flexible than during the red-hot pandemic market. Still-high mortgage rates mean that the typical buyer would still pay more as a monthly payment for a median-priced home compared to last year, but the relentless climb in prices has finally come to a halt. The median US home price fell 0.9% year-over-year in June and July, and rental prices also fell year-over-year, offering buyers and renters a chance to take a breath. Today’s market is feeling the tension between buyers willing to participate despite the high price of homeownership, and limited inventory. As a result, buyers in some areas face competition over the relatively few homes available this summer. Nevertheless, homes are spending longer on the market, offering buyers more time to explore the market and consider their options.

This year’s market has slowed considerably compared to years past, a welcomed shift for buyers as the season quickly approaches the best time to buy — the time of year when the balance of market conditions tends to favor buyers the most. According to Realtor.com’s analysis of their listing data since 2018, the best time to buy a home this year will be the week of October 1st – 7th. With all of the challenges facing buyers as the housing market continues its journey to a healthy condition, this week boasts the culmination of market factors that favor buying over every other week of the year.

Is The Housing Market Back To Normal?

In a ‘typical’ (pre-pandemic) year, early-fall brings near-peak inventory, waning demand, a slower market pace, below-peak prices, still considerable new listings, and more homes seeing reduced prices. Last year, the 2022 homebuying season largely behaved like a pre-pandemic year, albeit with higher price growth, a sharper fall-off in demand and more significant inventory growth. Last year’s market shifted rather abruptly mid-summer as the impact of climbing mortgage rates was fully realized. The beginning of 2023 carried over lower buyer demand as well as a lower rate of new listing activity and slower price growth. The number of homes for sale increased over the previous year from May 2022 through June 2023, marking the first period of active listing growth since June 2019. Active inventory growth was driven by declining buyer demand, which left homes on the market for longer. 

However, mortgage rates have remained within the 6% to 7% range since September 2022, leading to declining seller activity as homeowners feel ‘locked-in’ by their current, lower mortgage rates. As a result, active listings started to fall again year-over-year in July 2023, leading to fewer home options for buyers. In general, the homes listed on the market in the summer were slightly lower priced than the previous year, but limited inventory kept prices afloat, despite extending time on market.  

As summer fades, the mixed bag of slower price growth and longer time on market amid limited inventory and fewer new listings indicate that this year’s homebuying will follow a more typical pattern in some areas, but will present a challenge for buyers in others. Buyers continue to feel the effect of uncertain economic conditions, looking to cooling inflation to determine the housing market’s path forward. Potential buyers continue to face the affordability challenges that impact homeowner willingness to sell, feeling the stress of high mortgage rates. Despite these challenges, the typical seasonal trend coupled with the shifting market will play in the favor of persistent, informed buyers who are ready to purchase. Today’s market, though still challenging, tilts slightly more in the favor of buyers than in the last few years.

Why Early October?

Nationally, the best time to buy in 2023 is the week of October 1-7. This week historically has shown the best balance of market conditions that favor buyers. Inventory tends to be high, prices are below peak levels, demand is waning, and pace of the market slows to a more manageable speed.

This seasonal slowdown is partly driven by school schedules and weather patterns. Housing market activity begins in earnest in spring and peaks in summer as families hoping to move while kids are out of class look to close on a home with enough time to settle in before the back to school rush. This critical mass of families prioritizing home search decisions around school districts and the school calendar combined with warmer weather that makes home showings and inspections easier to conduct and foliage that enhance the curb appeal of many homes leads to a predictable surge in activity. Then as the year transitions to fall and more families bow out due to the school schedule, demand wanes, and prices dip to post-peak levels as leftover inventory stays on the market.

Early fall is generally the sweet spot for buyers who can capitalize on that confluence of factors to have a wider variety of options at a more reasonable price.

Plentiful Listings

During the best week, buyers can expect listings to rise beyond what they’ve been seeing so far this year. Historically, inventory peaks in early fall. This year, inventory will likely be lower than in years past as hesitant sellers shy away from the market, but we expect the seasonal inventory trend to hold. The typical seasonal trend expects this week to have 11.7% more active listings than the average week, and 17.2% more than the start of the year. However, 2023 is an outlier compared to past years as sluggish seller activity means inventory levels may remain lower than the typical trend suggests. Adjusting for this shift suggests that the first week in October may see active listings climb to a level somewhere between 2021 and 2022 inventory for the same week, failing to make progress towards pre-pandemic inventory levels.

Less Competition From Other Buyers

Home buyers shopping during the best week should expect less competition from other buyers. Properties tend to attract the most viewership per listing in the spring when buyers start to wade into the market before inventory picks up. The summer continues to bring in home shoppers, which translates to more competition for buyers looking to lock down a home. In 2022, this trend shifted as high mortgage rates led to waning buyer attention starting in late spring, but year-to-date 2023 seems to be adhering to pre-pandemic trends. Despite less buyer demand than was common during the pandemic, listings on the market this year still garner more attention than was common pre-pandemic. Historically, during the Best Week to Buy, demand is 18.7% lower than the peak, and 13.5% lower than the average week. Though still-high prices and elevated mortgage rates mean many buyers are on the sidelines, if inventory growth stalls relative to buyer demand, competition may heat up.

A More Manageable Market Pace

Another challenging aspect of homebuying, especially in the last few years, is the pace of the market, or how long it takes homes to sell. This year brought relief as the market slowed relative to the previous year, though homes still spent less time on the market than pre-pandemic. This has helped buyers by allowing them to spend more time considering their options, taking some pressure off of making a quick decision as not to lose out. The best week should offer more time for buyers to deliberate and may even mean more flexible sellers, eager to get their home sold. \ However, waning inventory may mean the market slows down less than is typical as buyers compete for a limited number of options.

Lower Post-Peak Home Prices

As the market cooled in 2022 and into 2023, prices failed to reach a new peak. The national median listing price fell below the previous year’s level in June and July, but limited for-sale inventory has kept the price decline moderate. At a national level, prices typically dip 3.3% compared to the typical season high during this week. Prices have mirrored a typical pre-pandemic trend year-to-date. Adjusting for this year’s trends, buyers shopping during the best week could save close to $15,000 compared to the year’s peak nationally. And in several of the largest housing markets around the country, home prices during the best week can dip over 10% lower than their peak price earlier in the year, potentially saving buyers tens of thousands of dollars.

More Price Reductions

The best week also represents one of the peak weeks for price reductions throughout the year, with an average of 5.5% of homes seeing price reductions that week, historically. In fall 2022 price reductions returned to near pre-pandemic levels. However, in spring 2023, the share of listings with a price reduction started to lag the previous year’s rate, suggesting that sellers and buyers are more closely matched on price expectations. Nationally, the best week could mean roughly 40,000 homes seeing price reductions, based on inventory estimates. This weekly price reduction rate would translate to a monthly price reduced share of more than 20%. This peak is historically driven by a combination of buyers leaving the market, which brings down demand, in addition to a build up of inventory throughout the year.

The Potential for More Fresh Listings

In addition to active inventory on the market, the addition of fresh listings entering the market tends to give buyers more options even into the fall. The best week historically has added 18.9% more than the start of the year. However, the new listing count has fallen relative to the previous year for the last 14 months. A majority of homeowners are feeling ‘locked-in’ by their current low mortgage rate, making them hesitant to sell as to avoid financing a new home at a higher mortgage rate. This trend is expected to continue into the fall as mortgage rates remain elevated. Nonetheless, new listing declines have leveled off and the Best Week to Buy is still expected to offer buyers more fresh listings than during the remainder of the year.

No matter your priority, get to know your local market by spending time with a trusted RDRE agent so you are notified of every home that fits your criteria when it hits the market. Keep in mind that homebuying is a journey and we are to guide you along the way!

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