Summer is a great time to buy a home. Plants and flowers are at the height of their bloom, upping a home’s curb appeal, and the sunshine makes every property look warm and inviting.
But let’s not forget we live in Canada and the beautiful summer weather you might experience when you first visit a home won’t last year-round.
When visiting potential homes during the summer, be sure to keep an eye out for issues that could become problematic in the winter, as some might be easy to fix, while others may not.
If you’re planning on taking advantage of the summer real estate market, here are some things to consider.
Benefits of buying in the summer
Aman Singh, a REALTOR® and salesperson with RE/MAX Bridge City Realty in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, says “any season is better when you’re prepared to buy a home.” However, Singh added there’s usually more happening in the summer, with a lot of activities, school holidays, and a little bit of extra time on hand for buyers to view properties and neighbourhoods. Of course, longer days allow more shoppers to go out and view properties, too.
“It’s also easy to maneuver around the neighbourhood, see new developments and construction activity for growth patterns, while community events showcase strong community bonding,” said Singh.
Some sellers don’t consider putting their house on the market until summer because it shows better. The grass is lush and green, while the leaves on the trees and vibrant flowers show better than they might in early spring when everything is still brown or there’s snow on the ground.
But looking at homes in the summer isn’t just practical—it’s also enjoyable. You can wear your sandals and shorts when you visit potential houses, instead of bundling up in heavy coats, boots, and touques like you might have to during the fall and winter.
The nice weather also makes it more enjoyable to explore the neighbourhood. You can check out the area you might potentially call home and walk to the nearby schools, coffee shops, and local amenities—something you might feel less inclined to do if it was raining or snowing. Additionally, while you explore the community, you can also get a feel for the people who live in the neighbourhood as more people are likely to be out walking and enjoying the weather.
However, if you are unable to visit a property in person, REALTOR.ca listings also offer neighbourhood data, so no matter the weather you can still get a feel for the neighbourhood.
What should you look for when buying a home in the summer?
Despite all the benefits of buying a home in the summer, nice weather can also mask serious issues. If you’re looking to buy property in a place that experiences both ends of the weather spectrum, warmer weather may hide issues such as moisture retention in the doors and windows during winter.
Singh says buying in the summer gives buyers more visibility in terms of the exterior of the home as snow isn’t covering roof tops, driveways, and sides of the house, allowing potential buyers to see any visible issues.
He adds when looking at a home’s exterior, it’s important to look at how well a front lawn is taken care of, as it’s “a significant sign of the neighbourhood and homeowner’s pride.”
This can be found by examining if the house has proper grading, which helps protect the longevity of a home by managing the water around it. If the ground around the home slopes toward it or is completely flat, there are going to be grading problems, especially during spring melts.
Singh says to ensure the general slope and grading are very visible, and it “should be done in a way that water should be directed away from the foundation area of the house.”
He explained this is very important as it ensures there isn’t any water penetration into the basement, which can cause flooding.
“Good slope aims for when grading land extending out from a house foundation is about six inches for the first 10 feet, which is a five degree slope,” said Singh.
As for the interior of the home, Singh says to look for furnace leaks that can be visible to a property inspector in any given season. Although there are certain temperature settings to run air conditioning and furnaces, visible signs will be present if there is something that’s not kept up to date and serviced.
Singh says the summer also allows you to see any visible signs if there are basement leaks, even before a property inspector looks at it, in addition to any signs of moisture or mould.
When looking in the basement, Singh suggests looking at the concrete. “Concrete does not expand, it’s the very nature of the product, and small hairline cracks can often be seen in the basement.” However, if there are visible signs of larger cracks in the foundation, a professional home inspector can use an infrared camera and imaging tools to show if there is any excessive moisture around the basement walls.
He added if there’s negative grading around the house, one should be more careful when assessing the basement, as there are chances of basement leaks. “Floor heaving can be felt when one is walking around the basement, this happens if there is excessive water or hydro pressure.”
To ensure the longevity of a home, Singh says a professional home inspection is always recommended, as they are an important tool to avoid getting into a situation where buyers end up sending more money to rectify problems, as inspectors can identify underlying issues that aren’t caught in plain sight.
For example, Singh says if there’s insulation missing in the walls, leaking windows can bring in a lot of cold air, which leads to increase in heating costs.
“Property inspectors are not there to scare the buyers. but to educate them, protect them, and also showcase if there are any potential hazards, which can be life threatening as well,” added Singh.
He added that inspections are even more important for first time home buyers as they have to budget for everything. “Personally I always recommend and suggest buyers to get an inspection done. If there are bigger problems raised in an inspection then the buyer has the opportunity to renegotiate.”
What else should buyers know about buying during the summer?
Over the last couple of years, the real estate market was robust year round, but over the past few months, Canada’s housing market has begun to cool down from its red-hot pandemic pace as buyers continue to adjust to rising interest rates.
He recommends his clients take their time to find their home or investment property, regardless of the season.
“Find a REALTOR® you can trust and who works for you. Make yourself aware about the entire process: mortgages and banks for financing, professional property inspectors, lawyers to close the deal, and working with handymen or other professionals if your property needs some touch-ups. Have a list of maintenance items you need to care for as a homeowner or investor. If you don’t know, your REALTOR® can help,” added Singh.
While summer is definitely a great time to look for a home, it’s always important to work with a trusted REALTOR® who can help you navigate this important decision with confidence and ease.