When Is the Best Time To Buy a House?

Deciding to purchase a new home — whether it is your first home purchase or simply a move elsewhere — is one of the biggest choices you will likely ever make. However, some times are better to buy a home than others. If you are struggling with the decision of when to start your property search, here are some tips to help.

Shop When You Can Afford a Home

It is easy to get sucked in by the allure of all of the beautiful homes available for sale on realty websites, but don't waste time going down a rabbit hole of homes you cannot afford. Before you begin shopping, determine your price range and even prequalify for a home loan so you know exactly what you can afford. If you wonder what type of loan is right for you, ask your lender "what is a conventional loan" for starters. Once you determine what monetary amount you qualify for, you can begin to shop!

Shop in the Spring

If you want to shop when the most options are available, begin your home search in the spring. This is the time when many homes go on the market because the weather is more conducive to home tours and buyers are more willing to view properties when the weather is more pleasant. However, ensure that you have prequalified for your loan before you get too invested in any home. Others buyers will be shopping too and you don't want your lack of preparation to keep you from making a good offer as soon as you find something you love.

Buy in the Fall

Though the market is hot in spring and summer, the best time to make your purchase is in the fall (if you are lucky enough to have flexibility). By this time, families have usually settled into their homes and are preparing their children for school, so competition should be a bit less intense. This can, of course, vary depending on where you are searching. Some areas will always be coveted and the competition will never lesson no matter the time of year or how hot the market is. In that case, be prepared to make an offer on something that you love ASAP so you don't miss out.

Buy When You Plan To Stay Put

The process of purchasing a home and moving is tough and time-consuming. If your new house needs a bit of a facelift or some renovation, this can make the situation even more time-intensive and stressful. If you plan on staying in the area for some time, purchasing a home is a good investment. However, if you have plans to leave the area in the future, consider if a large investment of both time and money is truly worth it. Is it worth all of the stress if you don't intend on sticking around?

Buy When You Can Afford Homeownership Costs

The costs of owning a home don't stop once you have signed your mortgage documents. Consider your home a lifetime investment, and ensure that you fully understand how much it may cost to maintain and improve the home through the years. When you own a home, you are typically responsible for your yard maintenance and all repairs and projects are your financial responsibility. If your new home is larger than your previous home, also remember that your utility costs, like heating and cooling, will likely be higher. You also should be able to come up with a decent down payment (typically 10%-20% of the total cost of the home) so you are not overwhelmed with interest and fees. If you don't consider this, you'll be paying interest for years before you even make a dent in your actual house payment.

Purchasing a home is a big deal and you should take it seriously. Follow these tips and you'll have a successful house hunting experience.

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