Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.
1. Prices Will Continue to Rise
CoreLogic’s latestHome Price Insights reports that home prices have appreciated by 7% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.2% over the next year.
Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.
2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase
Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have increased by half a percentage point already in 2018 to around 4.5%. Most experts predict that rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by nearly a full percentage point by this time next year.
An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.
3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage
There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.
As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.
Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?
4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life
The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.
But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?
Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.
The sun is high and hot—and so is the competition for buying a home.
Thinking about buying a home this summer? The sunniest time of year is great for exploring new neighborhoods and visualizing future patio parties during viewings. But before you start any serious shopping, it’s important to understand what the housing market is like for buyers right now, and what you can do to end up with the best home—and the best price—for you.
The housing market should be just as strong this summer as it’s been all spring. Existing home sales and list prices have risen this year, and starter home inventory has plummeted by 14 percent. But there are perks to house hunting right now, too. Here are some facts and tips to help you get the most out of this year’s summer housing market.
Summer Market Facts
Prices drop during the summer.
Summer may be a busy home-buying season, but it’s not as crazy as spring. In fact, prices drop from May through October. If you can hang on until late August, you could find a really great deal—that’s when nearly 14 percent of listings get a price cut.
PMI is getting more affordable.
There’s good financing news, too: Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is getting cheaper after PMI lenders MGIC and Radian lowered their rates this spring.
“That’s going to cause most of these PMI companies to be competitive, which is going to bring them all down,” Knoxville real estate agent Nic Nicaud says. Because PMI is typically required when homebuyers have a down payment of less than 20 percent, that means it’ll be cheaper for some buyers to get into homes sooner.
Summer 2018 Homebuying Tips
Don’t discount older listings.
When homes are flying off the market within days, it’s easy to think a listing that’s a week or so old is a red flag. Minneapolis real estate agent Danny Dietl says that’s not always the case. In his experience, it’s often because a buyer got cold feet and pulled out of a deal on a perfectly good house. But thanks to the assumptions people make about older listings in busy markets, the delay can cause the price to come down.
Consider a fixer-upper.
In a competitive market, it’s important to be flexible. That could mean going with a fixer-upper, even if you were imagining a move-in ready dream home. There are just more of them out there: The number of starter homes on the market is shrinking, but there are 8.3 percent more fixer-uppers among them than there were six years ago.
If you’re dead-set against a fixer-upper, Dietl says to be prepared to move quickly. “There’s only ever going to be a couple of options at a time,” he says. “And when new listings come on, it’s going to be pretty ferocious.”
Get to know the neighborhood.
In competitive markets, it’s tempting to make an offer on any available property that fits your criteria, but if it’s in the wrong neighborhood, you may never end up feeling at home in your house.
Take the time to do some community scouting before making an offer. You might notice convenient parks and new playmates for your kids—or be relieved to find more nightclubs than strollers on your block. You can even find out what your future neighbors have to say about the area with the new What Locals Say feature on listings throughout Trulia.
Make the strongest offer—even if it’s not the highest.
Obviously, now is not the time for low-ball offers. But the strongest offer isn’t always the highest one. Dietl says cash offers are often the secret to a winning bid. “You can even actually be the highest offer by thousands of dollars, and a cash offer may take precedence,” he says.
Sure, coming up with a cash offer could be tough for many buyers. But there are other ways to make a strong offer that don’t require gobs of money: Including generous contingencies, like a shorter closing or inspection period, and writing a great offer letter can help make your offer stand out.
In the ideal home-buying scenario, attending open houses and pinpointing the perfect place is a breeze. But in a seller’s market, finding a home is no small feat, which is why it’s important to make the most of the time you spend touring houses. Since most open houses happen on the weekend, you’ll need to do some prep work to manage your time wisely, so you don’t waste the better parts of your Saturdays and Sundays. We’ve got you covered with these tips to help you make your home search as productive as it can be.
1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
Do not start touring houses before you are pre-approved for a mortgage. Not only will this crystallize exactly the price range you should be considering, but it will solidify your status as a serious buyer when the time eventually comes to make an offer, says Spencer Chambers, real estate expert and owner of the Chambers Organization in Newport Beach, CA.
2. Clarify which amenities matter most
You won’t be able to zero in on the right property if your wish list is a mile long or too vague. “Make a list of your absolute necessities and another of your wants; together, these will become your guide on which houses you’ll look at, based on the boxes they check,” Chambers says.
Beyond the physical house, brainstorm other variables that will help you narrow down the neighborhood: school district, walkability, proximity to downtown, etc. “Think about what you like to do on the weekend and what you need access to,” says Wendy Hooper with Coast Realty Services in Newport Beach, CA. Do you love dining out? Is a thriving music scene important? Do you need to live in a top-notch school district? “All of these factors help narrow communities quickly,” Hooper says.
Finally, if you’ll be commuting, check out typical drive times during the hours you’ll be on the road, using Google Maps or Waze. “Just because a property is near a highway doesn’t mean you’ll have smooth sailing if the highway is clogged with daily bumper-to-bumper traffic,” Taylor notes.
3. Find a savvy real estate agent
Once you are clear on your parameters, it’s time to start touring these homes. You’ll really want a real estate agent who knows the area. One way to find one is to start perusing listings in your preferred location and see what names keep popping up; they are likely to be the local experts. In many instances, they will be familiar with the homes for sale, and they may even catch wind of homes that are about to hit the market, so you can have a first look.
The goal is for your real estate agent to help you whittle down the list of homes you like online to a handful you’ll tour in person during the weekend.
4. Plan your route wisely
Once you’ve settled on the houses you’ll tour that day, have your agent create an itinerary of the most efficient route to see them. Grouping properties by neighborhood helps clients get their bearings on relative distances and a feel for what each neighborhood offers, says real estate agent Jake Tasharski with Center Coast Realty in Chicago.
However, if you’re short on time, Taylor recommends prioritizing by preference to make sure you’re able to see your top prospects. Or front-load your schedule with the newest listings, since those are the hottest homes that other buyers are eager to tour.
5. Take notes (and photos) as you go
When you are touring many houses in one day, they are naturally going to blend together. To keep them all straight, take plenty of photos—at least one of each room—and take notes of anything you notice, both positive and negative. Spencer also recommends giving each house a nickname, something that stands out to you, so that you can easily remember it.
Remember, this is the time to be judgy. Tasharski encourages clients to eliminate homes as they go by comparing each current home to the previous showing, and to their favorite home so far. “Seeing so many properties in a short amount of time can get overwhelming, so if my client knows a home they just saw isn’t ‘the one,’ we throw that listing sheet away, so it’s out of sight and out of mind.”
6. Block out the last half of the afternoon to revisit your top choices
If at all possible, leave the final hour to revisit your favorite properties. Still have extra time? Get to know the neighborhood. enjoy a snack or cocktail in a local bistro, and soak up your new neighborhood vibe, Taylor suggests. You’ve earned it.
How long does it take to buy a house? It’s a big question, especially for people who hope to time their home purchase with when their rental lease is up. Or before the start of school. Or when you’re closing on the sale of your old home. Or any number of other time-sensitive situations you’re trying to manage. While timing a home purchase is tricky and will vary based on a variety of factors, many experts estimate that you should expect the home-buying process to take a minimum of four months.
Talk about a long slog, eh? Yet there are good reasons why buying a home is no impulse purchase. To help illuminate what’s going on, here’s a rundown of the various stages you’ll encounter to help you time your house hunt just right.
Stage 1: Getting mortgage pre-approval
Your first step shouldn’t be toward all those exciting open houses; it should be to a lender, presuming you need a mortgage to make your home-buying dreams happen.
“You’ll want to speak to a mortgage broker to start the loan process early so there are no surprises,” says Realtor® Beverley Hourlier with Hilltop Chateau Realty, in San Diego.
There are a couple of reasons for this: One, unless you’re really organized, it will take you a while to gather all the documents you need to show your lender, including pay stubs and tax forms. Two, if the lender finds out that your finances are less than ideal for homeownership—because of, for instance, a poor credit score—it can take months to clean up your finances so you’re in better standing.
If your finances are in good shape, you can get pre-approval, which is a guarantee that the bank will lend you a certain amount of money. Having this guarantee in hand is a major asset when home shopping, because it shows sellers that you can afford their home and mean business.
If your financial circumstances don’t change much by the time you close the deal, you can ask a lender to extend that promise for an additional 90 to 120 days or longer; you can also lock in a great interest rate so it doesn’t rise by the time you’re actually buying a home.
Stage 2: Finding the right home
While looking at real estate listings online is fun and easy, things slow down once you get to the point where you’re visiting houses in person. After all, you can’t just pop in whenever you want; you can visit only during an open house (often only on the weekends), or schedule individual appointments at times that work for the seller.
So in the same way you have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding a prince, you’ll likely need to see a lot of homes before you find one you love. On average, people see 10 houses before they make an offer, but that number can be much higher.
According to Realtor® Melanie Atkinson with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, in Tampa, FL, “The last thing you want is to feel rushed or make a decision in haste that you will later regret.”
Stage 3: Closing the deal
Once you’ve found the right house and made an offer that’s been accepted (which can typically happen in a few days), the waiting game really begins. On average, it takes around 50 days to close on a loan, from the time lenders pre-approve your mortgage application to the day you sign all the documents and get the keys.
Can you see now why getting pre-approval early is so important? In fact, securing financing is the most common holdup in buying a house. Even with a pre-approval, it can still take 30 days for the lender to do its due diligence by conducting a home appraisal to make sure it’s a good investment (since after all, the lender’s money is on the line).
Meanwhile, it will also take time for you to do your own due diligence to make sure the home isn’t hiding some glaring flaw you’ll regret inheriting. You can do this by checking the sellers’ property disclosure statements for any problems they’re aware of, and also hiring a home inspector to check out the house from top to bottom for any problems. All of this takes time.
Bottom line: As much as people complain about how long the home-buying process takes, it’s all in the interests of making sure you’re happy once you move in. So when in doubt, start now! If you’re worried you’ll find your dream house too soon, there are ways to negotiate with a seller so that it all works out.
While you are house hunting, it’s helpful to keep track of what you’ve seen. After walking through more than a half-dozen homes, the features and foibles of each house can begin to blur together.
You need to recall the amenities each home offers to determine which place would suit your needs best. These five tips can help you stay focused and organized.
1. Set priorities
Before you start your house search, make a master list of all the things you need and all the things you like. List the items in order of importance. For example, home office space might be more important than a Jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom or a walk-in closet. Make sure your list includes the following:
Overall square footage
Number of bedrooms
Number of bathrooms
Size of yard
Style of home (e.g., condo or single-family)
You could also add these other features:
Large master bathroom
Large kitchen with lots of storage space
Single floor or multiple stories
Formal dining room
2. Factor in travel time
In addition to your priorities list, create a list of the places you visit regularly, also in order of importance. For example, your work commute will likely be more critical than the distance to a gym you visit twice a week. Add schools, parks and other places that are regular pit stops. When you buy a home, you’re committing to any travel arrangement permanently, so be sure that the distance will suit you into the future.
3. Take notes
Once you’ve finalized your lists, create a checklist system that you can take with you as you look at homes. Some people prefer a spreadsheet, while others may prefer to take separate notes for each home.
You’ll want to be able to make comments that correspond with any photos you take. In your notes, be sure to identify homes by their address, so you can cross-reference them with notes from your REALTOR®.
4. Start touring
With your system in place, you’re ready to start visiting homes. Walk through each home and record items on your list, as well as your emotional response.
Snap pictures of anything special you’d like to remember later. Don’t dwell on items that are easy fixes. You can always swap a refrigerator or paint over a fuchsia wall in the guest bathroom after you move in.
Focus on the permanent features that would be costly to change. Is the roof in good shape? Is there enough space for your family?
If you walk into a home and dislike it immediately, it is probably best to heed your gut reaction. Don’t force yourself to like a home because it looks good on paper. However, if you walk in the front door and immediately feel at home, note that. It shouldn’t be the only factor you consider, but it is significant.
5. Review your notes
After you have seen several homes, review your summaries. Certain homes will jump out, and you can easily compare them. House A may be $10,000 more than house B, but it offers an extra bedroom. House C may have a pool but only one bathroom. Revisit your narrowed-down choices again for a second look.
Finding and buying the right home for you and your family will take time. By following these five tips to help you stay focused and organized, you won’t have to worry about forgetting the features of the homes you visit—and you can be confident in your home choice.
This article was published by Patricia-Anne Tom on realtor.com. It is updated from a previous version by Laura Sherman.