Chicagoland is famous for its bracing winters, full of heavy winds, lots of snowfall, and temperatures that regularly dip into the single digits or below. There’s no denying that winter in Chicagoland can be tough — but there’s no reason that the chill has to stop you from starting the search for your next home!
In fact, digging into the house hunt during the winter months can have some real benefits for buyers. This off-peak season often has fewer buyers on the market than in the spring and summer months, which can mean less competition for available listings. When you look at seasonal trends, home prices in some neighborhoods also tend to come down in the winter, which can increase your purchasing power as a buyer. At the same time, many sellers enter the winter season highly motivated and eager to reach a deal, which can offer buyers leverage when it comes to negotiations.
Finally? Looking at the current market, there are plenty of signs that this winter is a great time to buy, including low interest rates. Mortgage interest rates reached recent lows during the fall and seem poised to continue dropping in the winter, which means that buyers who act quickly may be able to save thousands of dollars over the life of their loan.
Of course, exploring in the winter is often more easily said than done, especially once the temperature drops and the first snowflakes start to fall. Want to make the most of your winter home search? Here are five tips that can make winter house hunting easier:
1.) Find Creative Ways to Keep Warm
Going out and looking at listings can feel daunting, particularly when you’d rather stay cozy and warm indoors. To make exploring the Chicagoland market easier, look for fun and creative ways to safely prepare for the deep freeze. Here are a few ideas to get your list started:
- Prepare a travel thermos of hot chocolate, tea, or your favorite warm drink
- Dress in layers, so you can take off outer layers off if the home you’re touring is nice and warm
- Wear appropriate footwear, and be ready to take off your boots/shoes before entering a listing, or bring shoe covers if the idea of removing your footwear at each stop seems daunting
- Bring a cozy blanket for the car ride
- Pack a winter preparation kit for your car, including a flashlight, road sand, hand warmers, and batteries
- Look ahead on the calendar and plan to see more homes in person on days that are forecasted to be warm, if possible
2.) Look to See How a Home Handles the Harsh Weather
One advantage of seeing a property during the winter months is that you’ll often get to see the property “at its worst,” so to speak. On a gray and chilly winter’s day, there won’t be any pretty spring flowers or blue skies to draw your attention.
When you look at a property, think about how it holds up to the winter conditions, and consider what factors matter most to you. Is the home brightly lit? Do you notice any drafts or cold spots? Is there a lack of street parking due to snow banks in the neighborhood? Could you imagine taking a trek to the local CTA station in subzero weather? All of these things are good points to consider and discuss with your broker.
On the flip side? If you find yourself falling in love with a property on a dreary winter day, this is a positive sign that this home really might be “the one.” After all, if you like the listing in the dead of winter, imagine how much more you might love it in springtime when it truly blossoms to life!
3.) Ask About the Spring and Summer
While touring a home in the winter can give you one sense of the property, you may also want to get a better idea of how the listing might feel in the spring or summer. Don’t be afraid to request photos of the home during the warmer seasons, so you can see the exterior and interior in different conditions. If all of the listing’s marketing photos are from the winter, you may even ask for additional pictures from the seller and their agent. Even if they can’t provide them, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
And don’t forget to use your broker as a resource if you have any questions or concerns. For example, if you have any concerns about home areas or systems that may be difficult to test or inspect in the winter — such as a pool, in-ground sprinkler system, septic system, air conditioner, or so on — your broker may be able to ask for documents from the last time those systems were serviced, or even factor these considerations in when it comes time to present an offer and enter negotiations.
4.) Take Advantage of Your Winter Schedule
Are November and December full of dark nights and cold days where you’d rather stay inside? Good! You can use these indoorsy days to focus your home search using Baird & Warner’s signature toolkit of customizable resources. Our advanced buyer tools can empower you to search for properties and get real-time updates here on our website, through email, or even via text message.
Meanwhile, think about your winter “to-do” list, and how it may help or hinder your home search. If you know that your work schedule or social calendar slows down in the winter, then this may be the prime time to lean into the house hunt. If you know that you’re going to be traveling extensively, or hosting visitors from across the country, then winter may not be the best time to get started. And as you do dig deeper into the process, be ready to be flexible. The winter months are full of important holidays and events, and some sellers may be traveling or unavailable at certain times, making scheduling and communication all the more important to keep in mind.
5.) Work With an Experienced, Local Real Estate Broker
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, your Baird & Warner agent can be your trusted guide through Chicagoland’s real estate market. During your winter house hunt, your agent can help you discover new listings and navigate the changing market by taking the time to truly understand what you’re looking for. Your agent can also help you research and get a feel for local market conditions and trends, so you can conduct your search with the knowledge and confidence you need to succeed. And once you’ve found the home that’s right, your broker can then help you put in your offer and lead negotiations, before guiding you through the closing process.
Make It a Wonderful Winter With Baird & Warner
At Baird & Warner, we believe that buying a home should be easier — in the frigid days of winter, or the dog days of summer!
As the largest independent and family owned real estate brokerage in Chicagoland, Baird & Warner has earned the respect of the brokerage community by always making the real estate process easier for buyers — from the day you start envisioning your next home to the day you’re handed the keys.
Our agents are hyperlocal experts who know how to turn an intricate, complex process into one that is smarter and more seamless every step of the way, so you can spend less time stressing and more time cozying up and watching the snow fall.