Buying a Home in the Summer
If your summer plans consist of days spent by the pool, catching up on a juicy summer read, we’re jealous. If you’re in the market for a house, you may want to consider swapping your easy beach read for the real estate listings.
As the weather heats up, typically so do housing markets—nearly nearly 40% of housing sales occur between April and July . Nice summer weather can not only make it easier for real estate agents to show a house, but it can also simplify the process of moving since you don’t have to deal with snow, ice, or any wintery complications.
Before you head out to the plethora of open houses, consider these tips for navigating the summer home buying season.
Knowing You’re Ready to Buy a Home
No matter the season, the very first step when considering buying a home is knowing you’re ready. Doing some soul searching and research and answering a few questions before you start looking at houses could definitely help.
Do you plan to live in the same place for the long term? If you buy a house, is its value likely to increase? Does the price of rent in your area exceed the expenses you can expect as a homeowner? If the answer to these questions is yes, you may be ready to buy.
Before you begin looking for houses it could be worth organizing your finances to prepare for the house-hunting process. Lenders will look at things like your credit history, credit score, employment history, and debt-to-income ratio when reviewing your mortgage application. One smart step to take is reviewing your credit report to be sure it’s accurate. If your credit score is lower than you’d like, you could start taking steps to improve it.
Knowing How Much Home You Can Afford
Before you pore through real estate listings and start hitting the streets, it’s a good idea to nail down how much house you can afford. This information could help you narrow your search, and prevent you from wasting time viewing homes that are outside of your price range.
Once you know how much house you can comfortably afford, you can also be prepared to make an offer quickly, which can be important in a competitive market. You could consider working with a lender for mortgage pre-approval. It shows buyers that a bank is likely to give you a mortgage and in turn allows your bid to compete with someone who is buying with cash.
Paying Attention to Regional Seasonality
The changing seasons can mean very different things to the real estate market in different parts of the country. In some parts of the country summer brings a reprieve from snow, ice, rain and mud, making it a perfect time to hit multiple open houses per day. In other regions, summer is uncomfortably hot and people are more likely to stay inside in the air conditioning than to schlep around looking at houses.
To figure out what time of year actually represents the most competitive market in your region, pay attention to local housing price trends and watch them carefully. In some cases summertime may actually be a great time to snag a deal if you don’t mind sweating while you look.
The National Association of Realtors keeps track of existing home sales , which you can look at by region to see when the housing market in your area heats up in any given year.
Other regional conditions may affect housing prices as well and may not be connected with the season. For example, an area that’s experienced a lot of housing development or one that’s been hit hard economically recently may see prices drop.
All About the Inventory
In terms of inventory, the more options the better chance of finding one that fits your needs and wants. Also, more houses on the market means that sellers may have higher incentive to price their homes competitively in order to sell them.
Remember, sellers are likely operating under the same constraints as buyers. Many of them want to sell their house and move while the weather is good and kids are out of school; they likely don’t want to draw out the process past Labor Day. So as a buyer, you might have a little bit more leverage to make a deal than you might think, especially in less competitive markets.
While summer can mean more inventory, there can also be increased competition from other buyers who are also looking to make a move. This could lead to bidding wars on in-demand properties.
Looking for Warning Signs Summer Can Mask
Blooming flowers and warm sunshine can add an extra layer of appeal to a home, but while visiting properties, you’ll still want to maintain a buyer’s eye. As you’re seeing the home in it’s summertime glory, you may want to think about how the home will fare in winter weather. Making note of aspects of the home that could be impacted by changes in weather conditions could help your home search.
For example, in Southern California where winter is the rainy season, summer- buyers may be surprised when the garage roof springs a leak during December rains. Buyers may want to look for water stains on walls and floors and any signs of warping wood. Making sure that summer foliage isn’t blocking any trouble areas, such as dry rot or problems with the roof or gutters could also save buyer’s from a headache down the road.
A home inspection should catch issues like these before you buy, but doing some preliminary snooping can help you weed out potential problem properties before you even get to that point. It can also be easier to complete a home inspection and make repairs during the spring and summer.
Finding the Right Mortgage
As part of the home-buying process, regardless of the season, you may be on the hunt for the right mortgage. Being pre-qualified or even pre-approved for a mortgage can help make you a more competitive buyer, so when you find a property you love, you’ll be able to make an offer with confidence.
To see what your SoFi mortgage could look like, play around with the mortgage calculator. Or you can find out what rates you’d pre-qualify for in just a few short minutes.
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