What Is the Right Time to Buy a House?
If you’re thinking about buying a house, timing is crucial. You want to schedule your purchase so you have the greatest availability of properties and get the best price. Here’s some helpful advice from the top real estate agents Bellevue WA has available.
Assess Your Current Financial Situation
If you haven’t been saving for your first home, now is the time to start. If you’re lucky enough to already have a down payment saved, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage so you know exactly what you can afford and what you’re likely to pay each month.
By being pre-approved you may be able to get the jump on other buyers competing for the same property. Many sellers today don’t even want to look at an offer without the buyer having a pre-approval in hand.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, a lender will need:
• Your credit report (and the report of anyone else listed on the mortgage, like a spouse)
• Proof of income(s)
• Your current monthly debts
• The amount you can apply in a down payment
• What type of loan you’re seeking (fixed or adjustable rate, length, etc.)
You can shop multiple lenders at once when getting mortgage pre-approval. Not only does this give you more options, but it also saves you a sizable ding on your credit score by consolidating all the credit checks into one time frame. To do a dry run on a mortgage pre-approval, you can first get pre-qualified, which is non-binding and doesn’t involve an official credit check.
Evaluate Your Lifestyle
Sometimes life throws curve balls that necessitate moving. If you are graduating from college, getting married, expecting a child, or changing jobs, you may need to relocate or move to a larger home. When timing your home purchase, give yourself a buffer so your closing and moving don’t fall too close to a stressful or time-consuming event. For example, if you know your baby is due in August, getting settled in your new place by June gives you plenty of time to prepare for the stork’s arrival.
Take the Season Into Consideration
Real estate, like most businesses, has seasons. You want to time your house hunt and purchase to coincide with the best inventory and easiest times to move.
Be aware that the winter holidays typically see fewer homes on the market. With holiday activities, many people don’t want to show their homes, and it can be challenging to schedule with realtors and lenders, who may be on vacation. The upside to buying in winter is that home prices are usually lower and sellers are often more likely to make a deal if the property has been on the market since the autumn.
Spring, summer, and early fall are traditionally the best times to make a home purchase. You can see any landscaping in its full glory, and it’s easier for home inspectors to work if you do make an offer. The biggest downside to house hunting in the warm weather is that the market can be more competitive, with everyone trying to buy and move at the same time, often before school starts in September.
Track Interest Rates Closely
As you prepare to look at homes and make an offer on one, track mortgage interest rates closely. There are numerous websites where you can monitor lending rates. There are even apps for your mobile phone. You can also chat with local realtors and any lenders with whom you’ve become pre-approved.
Why track mortgage rates? If the market looks like it’s changing, you want to be ready to act on it. If rates are heading up, you may want to wait or buy faster than you had originally planned, whereas if rates are plummeting, you want to try to hit the low in the cycle.
Monitor Your Area for Changes
Every area of the country is different when it comes to the real estate market. Factors that affect home prices and supply/demand include:
• Local economic health, especially major employers hiring or laying off
• Presence of military bases, large colleges, and universities
• Inventory of houses (including rental properties)
• Regional economic incentives
• Population demographics
• Popularity of the area
One of the best ways to learn this information if you’re not familiar with the area is to read local publications and chat with business owners. Homes for sale in Bellevue WA, for example, will be significantly affected by area employers like Boeing, Microsoft, and the University of Washington, as well as the Lewis-McChord military installation.
Track Local Pricing Trends
Once you’re aware of the general forces that drive real estate in your desired area, it’s time to look at pricing trends for your market. You can sign up for market reports from various sources, one of the best being your local real estate agents. Just as you want to time your purchase to get the best mortgage rate possible, you also want to buy when the market is most affordable.
Compare Renting vs. Buying
Finally, compare renting versus buying a home. If housing prices and mortgage rates are high, it may be best to wait for a change in the economy before taking on a mortgage.
Fortunately, renting comes with one big advantage: it gives you more time to save for a home and to find the one that’s perfect for you. Follow the steps above, time your purchase right, and eventually your dream of owning a home will come true.