The best time for first-time buyers to go house-hunting may be over the winter, as the listings of homes for sale grows.

House-hunting for first-time metro Atlanta buyers is best off-season

Housing sales are down. Prices are soft. Interest rates are going to rise. Yet coming soon is the best time of year for the first-time buyer to look for a home, according to an online real estate site.

The best time to buy starter homes in metro Atlanta is the first quarter of the year, January through March, according to Trulia. The price of lower-tier homes in Atlanta drops 6 percent during that time.

Real estate works similarly to other markets. More homes for sale tends to drive prices down. This is called a buyer's market. When Atlanta has too few homes for sale, prices rise. Not everyone can afford Atlanta housing prices. Homes for sale und

The housing market is at its peak in late spring and early summer. But in fall and winter, fewer people are looking for homes.

Across the country, “It turns out that starter home inventory actually increases by about 7 percent in the fall months compared to the spring,” according to an email from the online housing database company. “Listing prices are about 4.8 percent and 3.1 percent lower in the winter and spring than in the summer,” according to Trulia.

The unfortunate piece of their analysis is geographic: The best places to look for a starter home are out west.

In San Jose, for example, the price of a starter home on average falls 42 percent in the fourth quarter of the year, which is the peak for the number of homes listed for sale.

The median cost of a starter home in San Jose is $649,000, Trulia said. In contrast, the median price of a starter home in metro Atlanta is about $88,000.

The worst time for first-timers is the second quarter, when demand is at its height.

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AJC Business reporter Michael E. Kanell keeps you updated on the latest news about jobs, housing and consumer issues in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

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