Shoppers who did not pull the trigger on purchasing a new home during the busy summer real estate season may think they missed the prime window to start the process of working with a builder before winter weather sets in. But savvy builders know there are plenty of reasons to buy a new home during the fall and even winter months.

Many customers mistakenly assume if they buy in the fall they won’t see much progress on their home before cold and snowy weather conditions potentially impact construction, so they decide to hold off on their purchase until spring, says Brian Brunhofer, president of Deerfield, Ill.-based Meritus Homes. Meritus sales associates work to dispel this myth.

Meritus is selling single-family homes at The Reserve of St. Charles in St. Charles and Greenbrook at Highland Woods in Elgin.
Meritus is selling single-family homes at The Reserve of St. Charles in St. Charles and Greenbrook at Highland Woods in Elgin.

“In fact, fall and winter are a great time to start working with a builder and do much of the upfront planning and legwork that goes into a new-construction home,” Brunhofer says. “Plus, there are some definite advantages to beginning that process before the end of the year that buyers might not be aware of.”

Of course, the No. 1 reason that home buyers across the country should consider their new home sale sooner rather than later is interest rates. Waiting until spring means risking that rates will go up and deflate their purchasing power. Here are four other reasons Meritus gives it buyers to help them consider buying now rather than waiting until spring:   

Plenty of Time for the Upfront: According to Brunhofer, buyers often don’t anticipate the permitting and approval process that must take place before work can begin on a new-construction home. “The reality is that after a buyer signs a contract with us, it takes anywhere from 60 to 90 days to get architectural plans submitted and permits approved before we actually start construction,” he says. “Buyers who begin that process in the fall or winter can relax knowing they have plenty of time to get all those details taken care of and be 100% ready to roll when the early spring construction season starts. And if we have a mild enough winter, we might be able to get a jump on construction for them even earlier in the year.”

Brunhofer noted that extra cushion of time to get through the upfront process is especially appealing to buyers who plan to make significant design enhancements or don’t want to feel rushed in making their finish selections. “Some people don’t want to feel under the gun to make design choices quickly. So having a little extra time to mull over those choices, without worrying they are delaying the start of construction, can be very welcome.” 

Planning for a Summer Move: A top priority for many families building a new-construction home is to be in their new home by the start of a new school year. For these buyers, working with a builder in the fall and winter means they will likely be moving into their new home by next summer.

“Buyers should expect anywhere from five to six months of actual construction time,” notes Brunhofer. “That means if we get all the upfront approvals and permitting taken care of during the fall and early winter, we’ll start work the minute the ground thaws and we’ll be wrapped up in time for a summer move-in date.”  

Hitting the Spring Resale Market: For buyers with an existing home to sell, timing their new-construction home purchase so they are ready to put their current home on the market at an optimum time can be tricky. But by starting the new-construction process in the fall or winter, these buyers will be well-positioned to list their current home for sale when the spring resale market kicks off.

“The resale market typically starts in February and really heats up in March and April, which is perfect timing for those who want to sell their home in the spring so they’re ready to move into their new-construction home by summer,” says Brunhofer. “Plus, buyers who start working with us in the fall will have all winter to get their existing home de-cluttered and make any improvements so they’re set to hit the prime time for spring and early summer buyers.”

Reaping Financial Benefits: Before the end of the calendar year, builders will have secured their 2016 contract prices for labor and building materials and will adjust their home prices accordingly to reflect increased costs. That means buyers who decide to sign a contract with a builder this fall rather than waiting until next spring can see cost savings by taking advantage of 2015 pricing.