Buying a home during a spring frenzy can be difficult. Every time you make an offer, somebody else beats you to it. Spring might be the best time to buy a home, but since many homebuyers feel the same way, competition for the most desirable homes can be stiff.
To increase your chances of buying the home you want, it’s important to have a strategy that will give you an edge when many other buyers are in the market.
The normal spring home-buying season for most of America is typically April, May, and June because many Americans take vacations during July and August. However, springtime home buying can apply to different months of the year, depending on where you live. In warmer climates, spring home buying starts in January and runs through May. In northern cities, spring home buying begins as soon as the snow melts and lasts deeper into. Some years, that doesn’t leave much more than about a month of spring home buying.
If you're like most people and try to buy a home in April, you'll have to be ready to jump on the home you want. Don't be indecisive or try to sleep on it. When you find it, make an offer and follow some key tips to be successful with that offer.
If you are new to a town where you are buying, spend a few weekends before the home-buying season starts and get to know the area. Talk to people in the street and at restaurants. Visit several real estate offices and interview real estate agents. Use the internet to do research. Drive the neighborhoods you like the best at different times of the day and on different days of the week.
Hire a neighborhood specialist. All real estate is local, and an agent who specializes in the area where you want to buy will be a source of valuable information for you. If that agent is well known and respected among the area’s listing agents, that familiarity will be another plus for you. Agents who do enough business might specialize in multiple neighborhoods or an entire city.
Get preapproved by a local lender. A preapproval letter from a local bank, credit union, or other mortgage broker gives you an advantage over buyers with approvals from online or out-of-area lenders.
Focus on the house, not the owner. Don't get all hung up on whether the home is a foreclosure, a short sale, or owned by a traditional seller. Concentrate on location, location, location, and look for homes that meet your basic requirements. Markets once dominated by foreclosures and short sales, are no longer the norm among traditional sellers.
Making an Offer
Focus on how much the home is worth and less on what the seller is asking, even if that means paying list price—or more. Ask your agent to show you a comparative market analysis (CMA) of comparable sales to determine actual value. You can't compare values by other homes on the market because sellers can ask whatever they want. If you are getting the home you want at a price you can afford, whether you pay $1,000 more or less makes no difference in the overall scheme of things. You won't care in five years.
Give sellers something other buyers will not. There are many terms contained in purchase offers, and negotiation is not always all about price.
Motivate sellers to take your offer without actually waiving your rights. Ask your agent to make suggestions for you. It could be something as small as giving a seller an extra day to move out.
Trust your intuition. Every first-time home buyer harbors a little bit of fear inside about buying a home, whether or not it's spring. You simply have more company in the spring. And there often is comfort in being part of larger numbers. If it feels right, just make the offer. Trust your gut.