Though finding the right neighborhood carries great weight in this decision, don't forget about another major purchasing consideration: timing. A study from Attom showed that February is the best time to close on a home, thanks to prices 6.1% below the annual average, with a median price of $103.90 per square foot.
The next three best months during which to buy a home were:
One factor contributing to these discounts is the typical character of a winter homeseller - this is someone who knows that summer is "home-shopping season" but is choosing to list his or her home during the winter anyway, The New York Times reported.
"It's a buyer's market during the colder winter months," Mr. Brown said. "When sellers list in the winter, they know it's slower, so they're more motivated and more willing to negotiate."
Most people know summertime to be homebuying season. The weather is nice and warm - perfect for a weekend of open houses. More sellers are putting their homes on the market to cater to buyers, meaning there's greater selection. Plus, school has been let out for the year, and parents are hoping to make the move quickly so they can get settled in before the next session begins.
However, there's a price to pay for all of these benefits. The colder months see far fewer homebuyers, and with less demand - and fewer bidding wars - prices begin to drop.
Though it's common for warmer weather to push home prices upward, there are more factors at play in 2017 than in recent years. Residential mortgage prices steadily increased throughout 2016 and are poised to continue this trend in the coming months.
Plus, as NerdWallet pointed out, last fall wasn't exactly a typical season in terms of real estate sales. Usually, homebuyers leave the market at the beginning of September just as quickly as they entered it in May. But sales held strong through October and November.
"[Home] prices are likely to increase even more than you typically see in spring because of low levels of inventory and because we didn't see the normal weakness we see in fall," Jonathon Smoke, chief economist at Realtor.com, explained to NerdWallet.
One obstacle many winter buyers might encounter is a lack of available homes. Many sellers wait until spring to put their homes on the market, so it's common for fewer houses to be ready for viewers. But this year in particular has seen many buyers struggling to find a home.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 2016 ended with the lowest inventory levels over the 18-year history of NAR's survey. Just 1.65 million homes were available at the end of December, 10.8% fewer than in November. This level represents a 3.6-month supply.
Between typical seasonal price falls, the prospect of soaring home prices this spring and low inventory, prospective homebuyers who find a house they love because it meets their needs should move quickly - not just to beat their competition, but also to close before prices swing higher.
Academy Mortgage is one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country as ranked in the 2015 CoreLogic Marketrac Report. Visit www.academymortgage.com to find a loan, get a rate, or calculate your payment today.