Welcome to the best—and worst—time to buy a home: spring! Yes, it’s peak home-buying season. However, it’s no bed of roses.
Knowing what to expect is half the battle, and can help you use these highs and lows to your advantage!
So consider this an essential prep course. Ready to dive into the best of times and the worst of times for home buying.
You’ll love: All the inventory
One of the best things about buying a house during the spring is that you have a lot more options to choose from.
“New listings tend to flood the market in April and May,” says Kimberly Sands, a real estate broker in Carolina Beach, NC. Just keep in mind that with so much inventory out there, you’ll want to make sure to stick to your search and price parameters to avoid getting overwhelmed.
You’ll hate: All the competition
Busier times mean more buyers and, thus, more competition—which explains why bidding wars are more common during the spring, says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis.
As a result, you have to act fast when the right listing pops up, says Seth Lejeune, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway in Collegeville, PA. Signing up for instant alerts, so you can see homes as soon as they hit the market, can help you stay a step ahead.
That being said, don’t expect a computer to do all the work for you. In hot markets, listings may be scooped up before they are even posted online, which is why most housing experts suggest working with a real estate agent throughout the home-buying process.
You’ll love: All the open houses
More homes on the market mean more open houses for you to attend. That’s exciting news for buyers who relish ogling homes in person. Going to more open houses means you’ll get a better feel for the neighborhood you’re interested in, while also giving you the opportunity to size up the other home buyers you’re going up against.
But with so many open houses to hit, make sure to plot out on a map the ones you want to see, with the times they’re open, in order to maximize your time.
You’ll hate: The time pressure
Great listings get snatched up quickly year-round, yet home buyers are under even more pressure when there’s more competition among buyers. You have to be prepared to make an offer fast, since indecision could potentially cost you your dream home. That’s why it’s crucial to zero in on what type of home you’re looking to buy and what your price range is before you start seriously looking, Dossman says.
Moreover, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start your home search. Plus, having a letter from a mortgage stating that you’ve been pre-approved for a loan will speak volumes to a home seller, says Linda Sanderfoot, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker in Neenah, WI.
“Sellers want reassurance that you’ll be able to obtain a home loan,” says Sanderfoot, “otherwise the deal can fall through.”
You’ll love: Shopping in warmer weather
You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the season’s warmer weather makes for a more enjoyable house hunting experience. After all, who enjoys trudging through snow or suffering through cold weather to look at houses? No one! Also, clearer skies and warmer temps make for better moving conditions.
You’ll hate: Higher prices
Home buyers generally have more wiggle room to make lowball offers during the slower seasons, since there’s less competition. However, buyers have less negotiating power during the spring. Therefore, “be prepared to pay full list price for a house, assuming it’s been priced at fair market value,” says Lejeune.
Also, if possible, be prepared to offer a seller something that other buyers won’t, such as a longer closing period or a rent-back agreement so that the seller has extra days to move out. This is where having a great buyer’s agent comes in; a savvy agent will talk to a listing agent to find out what the seller is looking for—giving you the ability to make a more attractive bid.
The bottom line
Spring home-buying season has its pros and cons, but by preparing for them you’ll be in a much better position to clinch your dream home. And, if you don’t manage to buy a house this spring, summer is still a great time to buy a house, too.