Noah and Harper have spent years saving up to buy their dream home. Something a little unique on an oversized lot, with a sports bar for him and a walk-in closet for her, and a yard so their kids can play baseball. They’ve been saving for quite awhile.
And over time as they’ve saved, they’ve skimmed through real estate websites trolling locations and price points, dreamily comparing kitchen layouts and floor stains. They’ve indulged in ‘Love it or List it” marathons, and have even occasionally headed to Home Depot for a light bulb only to wander through rows of sparkling appliances, and aisles full of backsplash, writing down serial numbers just—you know—in case.
Then just the other day, with Q3 winding down, something incredible happened. Noah and Harper realized that, between the growth in their mutual funds and the cash in their savings accounts, they’d finally, finally, managed to accumulate the healthy 20 percent down payment they’d been working towards for years. It was time to celebrate!
But just as Noah popped the cork on the champagne bottle that he’d stashed away for this very occasion, he realized that summer was all but gone. “Have we missed the homebuying window?” he worried.
Although it’s true that spring and summer markets can be as hot as their temperatures, cooler weather and the start of a new school year can pave the way for homebuying opportunities that summer markets just can’t compete with.
The Advantages of Buying in a Fall Market
- Less Competition
- The pool of active buyers significantly decreases in the fall, as most families prefer not to move during the school year. Historically, this decrease has been softened by activity from first-time homebuyers, but overall this group has had the most trouble re-entering the housing market since the recession.
- Better Prices
- The number of homes that sold above list price in July of this year was down nearly 26% compared to last year. Sellers who were not able to nab a list price offer for their home will have to reconsider their options this fall, which often translates to price reductions. In fact, according to Realtor.com, home prices are typically at a 12-month low by the time we get to December.
- Reduced Stress
- During the spring and summer seasons, particularly the ones we’ve been experiencing recently, multiple offer situations are common. This is ideal for a seller, but for a buyer multiple offer situations can be emotionally draining—If they put in their best offer and it’s accepted, they may worry they offered too much; If they put in their best offer but the seller chooses a different one, they worry they should have offered more. The less competitive fall season allows buyers the time they need to make informed decisions without being influenced by other buyers.
- Low Rates
- Mortgage rates are still at historic lows at roughly 4.25% for a 30-year fixed, and it’s unlikely that we’ll see any big increases as we finish out the year.
The Disadvantages of Buying in a Fall Market
- Decreased Inventory
- Same as with buyers, most sellers prefer not to move after the start of the new school year if they have school-age children, leading to decreased inventory. This change becomes more noticeable in the colder months, as sellers—both with and without children—prefer not to move during the holidays.
- This should not be considered a reflection of the quality of inventory, only of the quantity. Ironically, the holiday season can be the best time to gift yourself a discounted home.
- Inconvenient Timing
- Generally, it takes 45-60 days from the time an offer is accepted to close on a home. This timeline can vary depending on the type of financing required, and the preferences of both the buyer and the seller. This is something to keep in mind for any buyer who wants to avoid moving when the weather gets rough or the snow starts to stick.
Questions, comments or concerns? I’m always available to help in the comments section below.