The Best & Worst Times to Buy a House in 2023
This article is part of a larger series on How to Become a Real Estate Agent.
The best time to buy a house is during the fall and winter, while the worst time is during the spring and summer months. This seasonality is due to predictable changes in weather conditions, market competition, and home prices, and is a crucial factor in the economics of homebuying. Whether you’re an interested buyer or a real estate professional who wants to inform their clients about the market’s outlook, it’s essential to know how these trends influence sales prices.
We gathered research from multiple sources to explain why certain months are routinely better times to buy a house than others, along with valuable takeaways for real estate agents and homebuyers.
Please note: The real estate statistics in this article are based on national surveys and data throughout the U.S. Some data may differ based on your location throughout the country, impacting the real estate market trends, climate, and the best and worst times to buy a house.
Best Time to Buy a House: September to February
Based on the 2022 U.S. Housing Market, the best months to buy a house year-over-year are from September through February, the fall to the winter season.
This is partially due to the holiday season, seasonal changes in pricing, and homebuyer competition that create a downswing in the real estate market—especially advantageous for buyers. Additionally, many families want to settle in a new house before the start of the school year in the fall, and many individuals typically take advantage of the higher number of home listings.
The Lowest Home Prices Are Typically in January
Median sales prices are more affordable between September and February than in other months of the year. For example, January 2022 had a median price of $377,454, which peaked at $432,812 in May 2022. The rise in sales prices between the winter and spring months is drastic, making the winter months—December, January, and February—a much more optimal time for homebuyers to purchase properties.
Additionally, sellers who list in January, as opposed to the hottest season from March to August, are more likely to do so for a specific purpose or out of need, such as a death, divorce, or financial difficulties. This can be assumed because they chose to list when property values are at their lowest and risk spending more time on the market. As a result, these sellers are more driven to close a deal quickly, which favors homebuyers searching for a great deal.
Higher Median Days on Market in January
Historically, the median number of days a home spends on the market rises between November and January, suggesting a less competitive market for buyers. Homes were on the market for 62 and 75 days, respectively, in January 2022 and 2023. This is significantly more than the May 2022 median of 31 days on the market.
The longer a home is on the market, the more opportunity buyers have to find and acquire the home they want. A higher number of days on the market also encourages sellers to be more receptive to negotiations on price, closing date, and other terms that can be favorable to buyers.
More Price Reductions in December
Reducing the asking price is a typical move made after a home has sat on the market for a while with no to few offers. According to FRED Economic Data, December had the highest percentage of price reductions at 34.32% in 2021 and 40.26% in 2022, whereas in July 2021, prices increased by 35.14% and 74.28% in May 2022. Although prices increased by 12.34% in January 2023, they are still lower than they will be in the spring and summer months.
Because there is so much inventory available between March and October, some sellers have difficulty selling their property, which remains unsold after the rush. This makes the period between November and February an excellent opportunity for buyers to pounce on a home that has been on the market longer than anticipated and secure it at a lower price.
Additionally, with fewer prospective buyers, sellers are more open to lowering their asking prices and being flexible in negotiations. So while these may be some of the slowest months for real estate listings and inventory, they’re also some of the best months for homebuyers.
Reasons why winter is the best time to buy in 2022 and 2023:
- January 2022: Lowest sales prices listed at $377,454
- January 2022 and 2023: Homes stayed on the market for 62 and 75 days in January 2022 and 2023, respectively
- December 2021 and 2022: Highest percentage of price reductions at 34.32% in 2021 and 40.26% in 2022
Worst Time to Buy a House: March to August
On the other hand, the worst month to buy a house is from March to August. Housing inventory begins to increase, and with the holiday season over, many homebuyers will start looking for new homes. As a result, home prices go up, more homes are sold above the listing price, and bidding wars begin.
Higher Listing Prices in May
In 2022, the spring homebuying season started in March. As per U.S. Housing Market & Prices, the median sale price increased by 16.9% in March 2022 compared to the prior year, with houses selling at a median price of $414,182. In May 2022, the highest median sales prices were recorded at $432,812, a 14.9% increase compared to the previous year.
The increasing sales price during the spring season indicates stiff competition among homebuyers who want more listing options and favorable weather. This season could be an uphill battle for first-time homebuyers whose purchasing power and credit score may be weaker compared to more experienced real estate investors.
More Homes Sold Above List Price in May
More properties sold over the list price from March to August than any other time of year, continuing a trend of increasing listing prices. For example, only 23% of homes sold above the asking price in December 2022, as opposed to 59.1% in May 2022.
Particularly between March and August, purchasers are likely to spend significantly more money than they planned because home prices are higher during this time and are also being sold over the asking amount. This makes it an even more challenging market for buyers who are already pushing their financial boundaries to buy a home.
Higher Moving Frequency in June
According to the Verified Movers report, summer is the most common season when people move. As many as 60% of relocations occur between May and August. Because of this, it is more difficult to book time with moving companies, and costs are higher than in the winter and autumn months. January and December boast the lowest moving rates at 3%, while June recorded the highest moving rate at 13%.
Here is a breakdown of moving frequency by month:
In conjunction with high prices, high inventory, and homes being sold over the asking price, moving frequency also contributes to the seasonal purchasing factors between March and August. Therefore, although these are usually the busiest months for real estate agents, it is considerably more challenging for homebuyers to buy during this period.
Reasons why summer is the worst time to buy a home in 2022 and 2023:
- May 2022: Median sales prices increased by 14.9% compared to the previous year, with a median sale price of $432,812
- May 2022: 59.1% of homes sold above the list price
- June 2022: Has the highest moving frequency at 13%
If you aren’t sure how your local market is trending, check out Zillow. As the most visited real estate listing website in the U.S., Zillow has a pulse on the latest trends and listings hitting the real estate market. In addition to helping you find affordable properties in your area and the agents who represent them, the platform offers weekly market reports and an interactive home value index tool for visualizing trends.
Housing Market Data by Month
According to the Redfin Housing Market report, housing inventory has increased since January 2022 from 1.08 million to 1.34 million in December 2022. The median sales price at closing has also surged, with prices going from $377,454 in January 2022 to $388,472 in December 2022. Median days on the market have grown from 27 days in January 2022 to 44 days in December 2022, suggesting that houses are being sold at a slower rate and at a lower price.
As a result, the colder months are the best time to buy a house because home sale prices have decreased, median days on the market are higher, and price reductions are more significant. On the other hand, the spring and summer seasons are the worst time to buy a house as housing inventory starts to rise and many buyers start looking for new homes after the holiday season, which causes home prices to rise, more homes to be sold above the listing price, and bidding wars to start.
Take a look at the table below to observe the housing market trends in 2022 to understand the best and worst time to buy a house:
Best & Worst Times to Buy a House
Number of Homes for Sale (in Millions)
Number of Homes Sold
Median Days on Market
Best Months to Buy a House
Worst Months to Buy a House
Best Months to Buy a House
Other Key Housing Market Indicators for Buyers
There are additional factors you can become familiar with to gain a complete understanding of the current real estate market and the best time of year to buy a house. Aside from seasonality, the following indicators will dictate your buying power and provide insight into whether you should move forward with a purchase:
- Local housing affordability
- Interest rates
- Median days on the market
- Housing inventory
- Time of year
- Market type
- Rental market trends
To read more about these indicators and see how they affected the market in 2022, check out our article, 7 Most Crucial Housing Market Indicators for Buying & Selling in 2022.
Is 2023 a Good Time to Buy a House?
Most real estate data points and housing market forecasts indicate that property values will continue to rise during the next few years, so it might be wiser for you to buy now rather than later. But the best time of the year to buy a house depends on whether your finances are in order. The most prominent signs you’re ready to buy a house are you have zero debt, an emergency fund, saved up a significant amount for a down payment, can handle homeownership costs, and know how to choose the right mortgage.
The good news is that home prices aren’t rising as quickly as they have in recent years. Additionally, buyers with everything in order may benefit from buying a home in the current market as housing inventory is gradually increasing and rising mortgage rates are removing some buying competition.
Based on seasonal trends, the best time of the year to buy a house is from September through February due to low home prices, higher median days on the market, more price reductions, and low demand—owing to the holiday season. On the other hand, the worst time of year to buy a house is during the spring season up to early summer, when housing inventory is high, driving the demand and home prices up. Aside from seasonality, other economic factors, such as mortgage rates, may also affect your ability to buy a home.