Is now the perfect time for you to buy a home? Or maybe next month will be more perfect. What about next year?
Many hopeful homebuyers try to predict when home values will rise or fall while also tracking the latest mortgage rates. This can add to the overall stress of the homebuying process and lead to poor decisions because predicting markets is very difficult. The best time to buy a home is when you can afford to.
Buy a home when…
Knowing that your financial health is the best indicator of when you’re ready to buy a home, you can focus your energy into the clear step-by-step process of getting your finances in order (no guessing necessary!).
- Save up for a down payment, 10–20% of expected home cost
- Save up for closing costs, 2–5% of mortgage
- Improve your credit score
- Shop for best mortgage terms between lenders (hint: start at your local credit union)
You can also follow these money-saving tips:
- Know about property taxes, utility costs, and any home-owners association fees so you can account for them in your home buying budget
- Hire your own inspector prior to purchasing
- If you plan to resell the home in the near future, consider the appreciation or depreciation potential of a home
- Remember that if you sell the house within two years of purchasing and living in it, you could incur capital gains tax on its sale
In general, the seasons will factor into the supply, demand, and cost of housing—whenever there is more extreme weather (hot or cold), that’s when the supply is likely to be low and buyers will have more negotiating power. However, in general:
- Winter — Inventory and demand tend to be low in cold months in the north. Fewer people want to move in the middle of snow or rain—or in the middle of the school year for families, regardless of climate.
- Spring — More houses will enter the market in spring. This means more buying options but also more competition.
- Summer — This is the season with the highest inventory on the market. Competition can still be fierce, but you’re more likely to find the house that fits your must-have list now.
- Fall — This is often quoted as the best time of year to buy a home: sellers with houses that have been on the market since summer are motivated to sell and there’s still a good selection.