Is Summer or Winter the Best Season to Buy a Home?
What to Think About When Buying a Home During the SummerDid you know there are more homes on the market during summer? According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory in the U.S. is actually 15% greater in the warmer months than in the colder months. If you have a lot of items on your home wish list, you might be better off searching during summer as you'll have more homes from which to choose. The only disadvantage (depending on the climate where you live) is that summer results in more competition, as a greater amount of people are likely to visit open houses in nicer weather. It probably goes without saying, but moving during summer is a bit more pleasant than moving during winter. For many, sweating beats freezing while trying to pack and unpack a moving truck. You can always cool yourself down, but it's usually harder to warm up. It also tends to be safer if you reside in or are moving to an area that gets snow or ice. If you have school-aged children, moving during their summer vacation offers more flexibility than trying to move during the winter holidays or spring break. Lastly, one nice thing about summer is the lack of snow. That can be a huge obstacle when trying to look at the exterior of a home. You might miss the fact that a few shingles (or the entire roof) need to be replaced when there's a pile of snow on top of it. The same goes for cracks in the driveway, and curb appeal in general.
What to Think About When Buying a Home During the WinterThere's less competition in the winter as most people are busy with the holidays, their new year's resolutions, or getting back into the swing of things at work. At this time of the year, buying a home isn't typically at the forefront of most people's minds. What does that mean for you? No bidding wars, and more room to negotiate if a seller is feeling a bit desperate. They might be if the reason why they're moving is a pressing one. Combined with having to work around their real estate agent's holiday schedule, having less showings, and subsequently, less interested buyers, sellers might be willing to give you a better deal or include more bonuses in the offer. Again, depending on where you live, the weather during winter can be brutal. You'll be able to easily identify drafts from windows in a house, and you'll notice how effective the heating system is. While snow can work against you, it can also work for you as you'll be able to see how well the roof and driveway handle several inches of accumulation. Are there noticeable dips in the driveway? Have ice puddles formed on the property? These fairly major repairs can give you an advantage during negotiations.
Considerations for Both SeasonsThere are a few factors to be concerned with during both seasons - namely, your real estate agent's availability, and your neighbors. Obviously, real estate agents may take time off during the holidays in the winter, but if they have children, they may also be likely to take off during the summer as well. Before you work with an agent, ask them about their availability over the next few months. You want to ensure that their planned absence won't negatively affect your intentions to buy. On the other hand, an agent looking to work through the winter holidays may be more motivated to help you, given the number of prospective buyers is lower. Additionally, when you buy a new home, you'll want to be surrounded by good neighbors, right? Summertime is great for seeing which neighbors excel at lawn maintenance and which ones let their grass grow for weeks on end. If you're someone that cares a lot about a home's upkeep, this might concern you. At the same time, you'll be able to see if neighbors work together to get rid of snow during the winter, or if houses on the block are nicely (or obnoxiously) lit up with holiday decorations.
Which Season is Better for Buying a Home?As you may conclude, there's no right or wrong answer. There are benefits and impediments to searching for a home in any season. You shouldn't let weather or the trending numerical data hold you back. When you're ready to buy, you'll know it.
How To Find a Great Real Estate Agent
- Ask Your Family and Friends for Referrals Get referrals from friends, relatives, neighbors and other acquaintances, advises the National Association of Realtors (NAR). After all, these are the people you go to regularly for all sorts of other recommendations, whether it's for a good doctor or a place to eat, you value and trust their experience and opinion. Start asking around. Put out feelers at family barbecues, while talking with the other parents at your kids' soccer game, even on Facebook. You never know which of your acquaintances might have a solid lead on a great real estate agent for you.
- Ask Agents About Their Experience Call a few agents and ask them about their experience - not just in sheer number of years that they've been on-the-job, but also in terms of what areas of specialty they cover. Do they primary work with owner-occupants or investors? Do they specialize in particular neighborhoods, districts or communities? Do they work with clients who might have particular or specialized needs? What supplemental certifications do they hold? Agents hold designations that reflect specialized training in areas like short sales, home staging, relocation and other topics. Ask potential agents what type of specific training or certifications they carry, in addition to their standard license.
- Contemplate Buyer or Seller Specialists Depending on whether you're buying or selling a home, you might want to work with either an Exclusive Buyer Specialist or an Exclusive Seller Specialist - designations that indicate that an agent holds a high degree of training and experience serving either buyers or sellers. However, there are pro's and con's to choosing an exclusive specialist. Some clients prefer to work with an agent who specializes on one side of the table. Other clients prefer to work with an agent who has experience on both sides, since the agent may benefit from that breadth of experience. Neither conclusion is 'wrong' or 'right.' Interview several agents and see who feels like the best fit.
- Check Out Their Online Presence Whether you're buying or selling, the Internet will play a crucial role in your process. According to NAR, 89 percent of home buyers use the Internet to search for properties. If you're a seller, this means your potential buyer will be scoping out your home online. If you're a buyer, this means that you'll be able to access plenty of listings on the web. How comfortable is your potential agent with effectively using the Internet? Do they have an attractive and modern website? Are they active on social media? How quickly do they reply to emails? You'll want to pick an agent who's comfortable navigating online listings, uploading photos, replying to emails and performing other web-based tasks.
- Ask for Referrals When you're talking to potential agents, ask for the names and phone numbers of at least three previous clients. Ideally, request contact information for clients who performed the same function (buying or selling) that you're trying to achieve. Call these prior clients and ask about their experience working with the agent. How responsive was the agent? How quickly did they purchase and/or sell a home, and how closely did the final sales price reflect their intended target price? Did the agent "go the extra mile" with small gestures? Don't rely solely on testimonials that may appear on the agent's website, but do search for the agent (or their brokerage) on Yelp to check out reviews.
- Look Up Their License The state real estate commission licenses every agent. Ask any potential agents for their license number, and use that number to look up the agent within the state's database, which you can access online. You'll see whether or not their license is in good standing, and you'll also see if there have been any disciplinary actions taken against that agent. Finally, look for an agent who you will get along with. You'll be spending a lot of time with this person, so make sure that you enjoy talking to and conducting business with your agent. A friendly, open and honest agent can make all the difference in the world - and can make your home buying or selling experience feel much smoother.
Should You Buy Before You Sell?
Should You Buy a Home before You Sell Your Home?If you're a homeowner looking to move, you're facing a common and vexing dilemma: should you buy another home before you sell your current one? Or should you sell your current home first? Both options hold distinct advantages and disadvantages. There's no "best" answer; each option contains trade-offs. Your personal circumstances and preference might be the deciding factor. Some homeowners enjoy holding onto their ability to live in their current home until they find a better alternative. Others don't want to make a financial commitment to a new home until their current home is sold, or - at the very least - under contract. Factors like whether a homeowner is moving locally vs. out-of-state, whether or not the homeowner has children in a particular school district, and the homeowner's down payment funding also play a crucial role in the decision. Let's take a more in-depth look at the advantages to both options, so you can make the choice that's right for you.
Advantages to Selling Your Home FirstDown Payment - The most obvious advantage to selling your current home first is that you'll cash out the equity in your current house. You can use this money as the down payment on your next home. This is one of the most common reasons for selling first. No Contingency - Many buyer's agents will write offers with a "home sale contingency" - meaning the offer is contingent on the buyer selling their current home within an allotted timeframe (in order to free up the down payment funds). If you can avoid writing this contingency by selling first, you'll make a stronger offer -- which could be a trump card in a competitive market. In other words, selling first might help you land your dream home. Predictable Mortgage Payments - By selling first, you remove the possibility of needing to make two mortgage payments simultaneously. In fact, if you're able to live with friends or family during the short-term gap between selling and buying, you may be able to pocket a few months' worth of housing payments. This can help you build cash reserves to cover moving expenses, closing costs, utility deposits and other expenses. Note: If you need to rent during this gap, you may still need to make rent and mortgage payments simultaneously (depending on your lease terms). Greater Focus If the idea of selling and buying simultaneously overwhelms you, you may find peace-of-mind in focusing on one step at a time. By selling first, you can concentrate on improving and staging your property to make it show-ready, and stay in your home while you patiently wait for the best offer.
Advantages to Buying a New Home before Selling Your Old HomeYOMO - You Only Move Once. If you sell your home first, you'll need to move twice - first to temporary accommodations and later to your new home. This doubles the hassle, and results in the process (from start to finish) dragging out longer. By contrast, buying first ensures that you'll only need to move your belongings once, and you won't need to bother finding a storage unit or finding a month-to-month rental. Shopping Time. If you buy first, you give yourself ample time to shop around for a home you truly love. You won't feel pressured to close on another home quickly just because your short-term lease is about to expire, you're tired of staying on your sister's couch, or the school year is about to start. If you're in a competitive housing market in which you might need to make offers on multiple properties, enjoying the luxury of time can be particularly valuable.
How to Cover the Down Payment if You Buy FirstIf you'd like to buy first (before selling your current home), but you're worried about the down payment, you have a few options: You may be eligible for a 'bridge loan' to cover the down payment. Short-term bridge loans, offered by financial institutions, are designed to cover the gap between when you buy your next home and sell your current one, and available to people with significant equity and great credit. Alternately, you might also be able to borrow a home equity line of credit on your current home, which you can use for the down payment. One caveat: you'd need enough income to cover three mortgages - your current one, your next one, plus the home equity line of credit. You're more likely to be able to exercise this option if you own your home free-and-clear or if your mortgage payments and other debts are far lower than your income. Finally, you can tap family and friends as a resource, asking for a short-term loan that you'll guarantee with a promissory note. However, note that some institutional lenders won't issue mortgages to people who procured a down payment through outside means, so check with your lender to see if this is allowed.
How Home Sellers Have Changed over the Past Decade
- 2014-2015 - Recent Years (Sellers Today)
- 2010-2013 - Initial Recovery Years
- 2008-2009 - Recession
- 2006-2007 - Pre-Recession
- 2005 and Earlier
Compared to the initial recovery years, more of today's sellers are receiving multiple offers.
The percentage of home sellers receiving offers above their asking price dipped during the recession, but has now bounced back to pre-recession levels.
During the recession and initial recovery years, significantly more sellers took the first offer on their home than are doing so today.
Today's sellers are nearly twice as likely to choose an offer based on emotion rather than money alone, compared to pre-recession years.Methodology This survey was conducted online within the United States between April 27-29 & April 28-30, 2015 among 4,023 adults (aged 18 and over) among whom 1,545 are selling/ever sold a home by Harris Poll on behalf of the Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty brand via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, the words "margin of error" are avoided as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in our surveys. The data has been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
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