When making a major purchase – be it car, home, or computer – when you buy can impact how you save. While housing is more market-based than cyclical, there are seasonal patterns that affect how much bang you get for your buck.
So, when should you buy? Well, check out these smart consumer rules of thumb…
Obviously, the best time to buy a car is before you really need one. But when that’s impossible, shoot for buying during a weekday instead of the weekend and as close to the end of the auto sales cycle as possible (usually the end of the month or a few days into the next month). That’s when dealers and commission-based salespeople are most likely to make deals.1
If you have a little longer timeline to work with, you have more options. If you’re looking to buy new and want to get the most use out of any new technology or body styling, buy as soon as the newest model year is released, typically in late summer or early fall (July, August, September).2 Speaking of, new model year releases are also the best time to get closeout deals on previous model year inventory, so September, October, and November. 3
Traditionally speaking, late spring-early summer is the most popular time to buy a home, and, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The hustle and bustle of the holidays are over. Sellers have had time to do improvements and get their homes show ready. The school year is over, so it’s not as disruptive for your kids. Buyers don’t have to slog through snow and mud to go to open houses. And, quite frankly, everything just looks better when it’s not brown and snow-covered. Which is why you’ll see inventory for available home increase in May, June, and July – as well as competition from buyers.4
However, if you have the time and patience, the best time to get a deal a home may actually be winter: November, December, and January. Having time and patience can also help when faced with a seller’s market versus a buyer’s market, when available home inventory can affect housing prices.5
In the market for a refrigerator, stove, washer or dryer? Much like cars, major home appliance pricing can vary a lot between model years. The Consumer Electronic Show (CES), held in January, is when manufacturers typically unveil their latest models and newest tech.6 Once those models are released later in the year (September and October), it’s a great time to snap up models from previous years, especially if you’re looking for new appliances but not particularly concerned about getting the latest and greatest in tech.7 8
That said, if you want the latest models and still are looking for great deals, major sales holidays, like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and Black Friday, are great times to compare prices and prepare to buy.9
Are you dreaming of watching the big game on a new big screen TV? You’re not alone. Super Bowl season (January and February) is the best time to shop sales, particularly on larger screen sizes. Besides the big game, it’s a great opportunity for retailers to clear out inventory before the new models start hitting the market in March and April.10
And, don’t forget about that seminal electronics-buying holiday, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, when looking for deep discounts on your home theatre system – though watch out for the derivative models that manufacturers sometimes release specifically to accommodate Black Friday sales, as they often lack features you may be looking for in a new TV.11 A good rule of thumb is to look up reviews for specific models on sale. If there are none, then it’s most likely a derivative model.
While Black Friday/Cyber Monday is a good time to get deals on most electronics, including computers, the back-to-school period, August and September, is when you’ll find the best prices on new PCs and laptops. In addition, students (with valid student IDs) can get additional savings at some major retailers.12
If you’re an Apple fan, the company holds its World Wide Developer’s Conference in June. While some updates may be minor, like most everything, new models mean lower prices on closeouts. That said, spring and fall are the best times to keep your eye out for the latest in Apple tech.13