Did you know that spring is the busiest time of the year for real estate buying and selling?
On average, spring time buying season is April, May, and June. For many areas of the country, April is the busiest of them all. (That’s right accountants – you aren’t the only profession pulling long hours in April.)
Why spring? Well, for a lot of people there’s just something about that fresh springtime air that makes you want to bust loose, get out and tour some houses.
Let’s not forget that the timing sets up things up pretty nicely for families with school-aged children. By the time a family closes on a house and boxes are moved, the kids are on summer break and able to start fresh at a new school if they need to in the fall. So at the end of the day, spring time house buying just sort of feels right.
The problem is, spring time house buying feels right to a lot of people. So if you want to make your move when the flowers are blooming and the market is booming, you better have your finger on the trigger.
To help prepare you, here are a 7 quick tips to help you make a quick decision this buying season:
- Get preapproved by a local lender. Preapproval, not prequalification. Big difference here. Prequalification is based only on the information you provide to the lender, meaning your pre-qualified amount is not a sure thing; it’s just the amount for which you might expect to be approved. Therefor, being a “pre-qualified” buyer doesn’t carry the same weight as being a “pre-approved” buyer who has been more thoroughly investigated. To shop effectively, and within your price range, you need to know what that price range is. A preapproval from a lender gives you comfort in knowing exactly what you can spend, and the seller comfort in knowing exactly what you have it to give them. As you can imagine, offers with a local lender’s preapproval letter tend to get more preference.
- Know what you want ahead of time. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you start touring houses to figure out what it is that you want. Get a head start on the process by touring neighborhoods and talking to agents early. Even if there’s still some snow on the ground, get out there and start driving around now so you can get a good feel for the neighborhoods you’re looking for and the type of home you want to live in. If you can, it’s also a good idea to talk to a few neighbors to get the inside scoop on the area. It’s always a good idea to check out the neighborhood at different times of the day and different days of the week so you get the most accurate take on the area.
- Focus on the big picture. It’s really easy to get nit picky when house hunting. Buyers tend to get a certain image in their head of an ideal dream home and if the property doesn’t match exactly that, they walk away. Well listen up. Unless you’re building this house from the ground up with a cushy budget, you’re not going to get exactly what you want. Focus on a few must-have items and let the rest sort of blur out in the background. Light fixtures can be changed, walls can be painted, but square footage and proximity to work tend to stay the same.
- Work with a neighborhood specialist. Real estate is a very localized business. A real estate agent who specializes in your particular area will have a wealth of information for you. On top of that, local agents tend to be well known and respected among the area specialist listing agents. This works in your favor when it comes to getting your offer heard. Particularly if you are in a situation with multiple offers or if you are waiting for the seller to sign a counter offer. In either of these situations, your offer could fall by the wayside. Your buyer’s agent can find out what the seller wants by calling the listing agent, taking a more proactive and efficient approach.
- Be prepared to pay full price (but do your homework first). Try to focus on how much the house is worth and not what the seller is asking for. Ask your agent to show you a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) of comparable sales to determine actual value. Remember, sellers can ask whatever they want for their property. Some listing prices are too high simply because the sellers owe more than market value. In a competitive market, you don’t want nickel and dime the seller either. Paying $5,000 more makes very little difference in your mortgage, so don’t lose the house of your dreams over it. Bottom line here: know what you could pay, and what you should pay. This will allow you to make a smart and quick decision.
- Create an offer they cannot refuse. There are many terms contained in a purchase offer. Throwing in something like a larger earnest money deposit might look very attractive to a seller. Ask your agent for advice on the deposit; then consider doubling or even tripling that amount. You’re going to pay it anyway at closing. While it’s true that money talks, negotiation is not always all about numbers. Ask your agent to make suggestions for you. It could be something as small as giving the sellers an extra day to move out. Again, this is a situation where having a well-connected real estate agent can really come to play
- Trust your gut. This advice is tried and true. It’s normal to harbor a little fear when buying a home, no matter what the season is. But if it feels right, make an offer. If it doesn’t, don’t feel immense pressure to grab any old house just because you thought the timing would work for you. When the house is right and the price is right, the season won’t really matter.
As with most things in life, being prepared is the best way to go about buying a home. So if you are thinking of making moves this spring, don’t hesitate to contact your local real estate agent right away to start talking strategy.
Have any more tips on buying a home? Tell us in the comment section below!