Deciding to move to a new house is a difficult decision that ultimately rests on one key factor: timing. Some people have all the time in the world to find their dream house, but miss out because they wait too long. Others may have to settle for a less-than-ideal home because they need to move now. In real estate, there are good times and bad times to look for a house and make an offer, so let’s determine which times of the year are the best.

Plenty of Options — Spring

In the real estate world, spring can start as early as January. However, March is when we’ll start to see houses popping up for sale all across town. Sellers may hold out until spring, when the weather allows for more showings (and a faster sale). It makes sense; nobody wants to move in 3 feet of snow. Starting the sales process in March gives buyers plenty of time to move in good weather. If you want plenty of options for buying a house, hold out until spring for the best.

Less Competition — Fall and Winter

As I said above, people typically want to move when the weather is nice. Imagine getting snow in your boots as you move your dining room table inside. It may not sound pleasant, but if you are willing to do so, you may get an awesome deal just by waiting for the end of the year. People who need to move right away are usually the only ones selling at this time, meaning you can usually buy a house for less than other seasons. You also are unlikely to have another buyer steal your deal at the last second. Just keep in mind that move-in ready homes are not listed as often during this time, so you may be stuck buying a home that needs attention.

Seal the Deal — Holidays

Christmas Day is widely regarded as the best day to make an offer. People are in the giving spirit and may be more likely to accept a lower offer than other days. There is a good chance you would also be the only person making an offer that day, which means nobody will come in and take the property from you.

Aside from Christmas, you may also want to try making an offer on Easter Sunday, New Year’s Eve, or even Thanksgiving. This trick, unfortunately, is unlikely to work on holidays like the 4th of July or Memorial Day, so stick to major holidays. Most other buyers will be preoccupied by celebrations, so you’re sure to get some attention.

Ultimately, your individual situation will dictate when you should look for a home and when you should make an offer. Although spring is known as the best time to sell, it may not be the best time to buy. The best way to make sure you get the house you want is to have a checklist of everything the house must have, all the questions you need to ask, and be prepared to get an inspection and make an offer right away. The faster you can complete the process, the more likely it is that you will not be outbid.