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Fall: The Sleeper Season for Home buying

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Under normal circumstances, the real estate market is a frenzy of activity from April to September.

These are anything but normal times, as we all know. Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the housing market. Between March and May, there was a sharp decline in sales of existing homes. Then the script was quickly flipped and sales increased nearly 21% in June compared with May, the largest monthly gain on record since the National Association of Realtors began tracking the data in 1968. That seismic shift can be attributed to historically low interest rates. (SELCO is currently offering mortgage loans as low as 2.5%.)

A recent trend of supply lagging demand has continued through 2020, driving up prices and playing into the hands of sellers. (Home prices are no longer setting records, but the median listing price continues to rise.) At the same time, interest rates are projected to remain low for the foreseeable future, which, conversely, favors buyers.

What ultimately happens in a market such as this is several people show interest in a select few homes, bidding wars ensue, and many buyers get left out in the summer heat. That’s a frustrating position to be in, leaving people to wonder if there is ever an ideal time to buy a home.

While people don't typically associate autumn with home buying, if you don’t find your home during the summer madness, your patience just might pay off. And with virtual home tours growing in popularity—mainly out of necessity in 2020—and the ability to secure a mortgage more quickly online or over the phone, you just may be the first to get your foot in the door of your dream home.

Less competition

Many buyers found their dream homes in the summer, while others put their search on hold as the weather takes a turn for the worse or they shift their focus to their children’s school. Also, unsold inventory from the summer gets reset and fresh homes go on the market, putting the ball back in your court as a buyer.

The asking price will probably be more realistic to what it should sell for.

“As a result, the asking price will probably be more realistic to what it should sell for and not have the inflated premium based off of lack of inventory,” said Mike Lavender, SELCO Mortgage Manager.

More flexibility

Say you find a home that has been on the market for 90 days. The seller may not have had much luck during the summer selling circus—possibly because the listing price was too high—and will likely be more motivated to wheel and deal. These negotiations can extend beyond the price of the home itself—you might be able to have expenses like closing costs and improvements rolled into the final tally.

“Fall is when listing prices may or may not come down slightly but sales prices certainly do,” Lavender said. “People who didn’t get their house sold over the summer are more willing to take a smaller offer so they don’t have to hold onto it through the winter.”

More help available

Summer is a busy time for everyone involved in a home purchase—real estate agents, appraisers, carpenters, roofers, and general contractors, to name just a few. With so many people waiting in line for these workers’ time, there simply isn’t enough “supply” for the “demand.” Once fall rolls around, schedules open up and there’s more time for you. Ideally, you could close on a home and have your improvements done within a short period of time. (Not to mention, you might get a better price.)

“Especially helpful for a potential first-time homebuyer, there’s an opportunity for the process to be a little slower and you can potentially leverage more of these professionals’ time to get a better understanding of what you’re getting into or the work that needs done,” Lavender said.

End-of-year sales

You're settling into your new home with the big yard. But you don’t own a lawn mower, and the refrigerator, dishwasher, and washer and dryer are old and tired. What to do?

Never fear: Fall and early winter are typically ideal times to purchase tools and appliances. New models are starting to roll out, meaning the unsold year-old versions—which, if you think about it, are still new because they haven’t been used—will fetch discounted prices. And with so many Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales online, you can score even sweeter deals without having to tangle with the crowds.

If the summer rush or concerns over the pandemic put your house search on hold, or you just can’t decide when to enter the game, don’t be discouraged. The cooler, calmer months of fall may be exactly what you need to land your next or forever home.

“The best time to buy a home is not necessarily driven by the rate market or the housing market,” Lavender said. “The best time to buy a house is when it’s the right time for you.”

To learn more or have any questions about mortgages, feel free to schedule an appointment, call us at 800-445-4483, ext. 7730, or send an email to [email protected]. We’ll be happy to help.

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