Is This a Good Time to Buy a Home?

There are times when it can be very frustrating to be a home buyer, most notably during a “seller’s market”. In a seller’s market, there are not many homes available for sale in an area, but there are a large number of buyers competing to purchase a home there. Buyers find themselves having to act quickly and offer to purchase homes at very high price points. The buyer in such a market should not anticipate receiving any concessions, such as help with closing costs or extended time periods from the seller. Basically, in a seller’s market, buyers are in a frenzy, fiercely fighting against a large number of competitors to be chosen as the buyer of a property, which usually means they are purchasing at what may have previously been considered outrageous prices.

When we get asked if it’s a good time to buy, or sell, a home, our answer is almost always: well, that depends on YOUR situation.

If you are in a situation, such as a new job, where you have to move to a new area and rental rates in that area are particularly expensive or renting does not satisfy your personal financial goals, then it’s a good time for YOU to buy. If you’ve just sold rental property and you are looking to do an exchange to avoid paying capital gains taxes, then it may be a good time for YOU to buy. If you have a large amount of money that you are looking to invest, real estate may certainly be a good option for you and so it may be a good time for YOU to buy. Of course, if you find that the trend in the area that you are looking to buy is in a “buyer’s market”, then it may be a great time for you to buy!

What is a “buyer’s market”?

When you hear real estate professionals refer to a “buyer’s market” they are communicating that an area is saturated with supply — there are far more homes for sale in an area than there are buyers looking to purchase a home in that area. In short, supply is high and demand is low. It’s the flip of a seller’s market because now you have sellers trying to position their homes to compete against the other houses for sale as they try to win the buyer’s interest. In a buyer’s market, not only are homes priced at lower, more desirable prices, but sellers may also be offering incentives to attract buyers, like paying a portion of the buyer’s closing costs or including furniture or appliances in the sale for no extra charge.

What if the timing is right but you aren’t sure if you are ready to buy a home?

We go more in-depth on steps to take to determine if you are ready to buy a home in our next article, “Am I Ready to Buy a Home?”. In short, first and foremost you must determine if you are in a financially stable position that empowers you to have a steady monthly income that will cover not only all of your housing expenses, but also all of your other monthly lifestyle expenses and still leave you with an ability to save money for retirement and any unforeseen emergencies.

Once that has been determined, it is important for anyone who is wondering if it is a good time for them to buy real estate to speak with mortgage lenders. Don’t only speak with one lender and then assume they have provided all of the information that you’ll need. Interview at least 3 lenders and/or mortgage brokers. This gives you an opportunity to gain more knowledge on the lending process, as well as loan products and programs that are available. It also allows you to learn about the type of customer service each lender or broker provides, so that you can determine who you would work best with. Once you have selected a mortgage lender/broker, they will need you to gather and provide them with pertinent information in order for them to work on getting you pre-approved for a home loan.

If you are a cash buyer, it’s probably a good time to sit down with your financial planner to determine if real estate is the best vehicle for your cash investment, and, if so, if you should fully invest with cash, or combine cash with a loan product.

Once you have your pre-approval, or, for cash buyers, proof of funds, you will start interviewing real estate agents in the area that you are hoping to purchase. Not all agents offer the same services and support, so it’s important to meet with however many is necessary to find a professional that offers the level of customer service that you expect from a real estate agent. Once you choose an agent, they will work with you to begin your home search.

QUICK TIP!:

Do not shop for your new home based solely on your home loan pre-approval amount, or, for that matter, your cash on hand! First, determine what maximum total monthly housing budget you would be comfortable with. How much are you looking to spend per month in mortgage payments, mortgage insurance, property taxes, HOA fees, homeowner’s insurance, utility costs, and upkeep combined? Once you have selected your monthly housing budget, work with your lender to determine what your home purchase price point would need to be in order to keep you within that budget. Remember, your purchase price will not only affect your mortgage payments, but also your property taxes, mortgage insurance, and in some cases, your HOA fee. Going over possible scenarios with your lender upfront will help you to not have expensive surprises down the line.

The timing of purchasing, or selling, a home is best determined by considering all of the related factors. Just because real estate in an area is trending toward a buyer’s market doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good time for you to buy. Conversely, it’s not necessarily true that you should not buy if it’s a seller’s market. There are a myriad of industry trends, as well as personal situations and preferences to consider in order to determine if the timing is right for each individual. What is always important is that a person considering buying, or selling, real estate take the time to research the trends in the housing and lending markets by reading news resources and speaking with professionals working in the industries.

* I am not a licensed real estate agent. I have worked in the real estate industry in Southern California since 2014, working with a real estate agent as a specialist, assisting in the home buying and selling process. Please always seek the advice of a licensed professional in your local community.

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Born, raised, & educated in SoCal. Mother and wife. Life and spirituality contemplater. Writer and performer.

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Brandy M. Foote

Brandy M. Foote

Born, raised, & educated in SoCal. Mother and wife. Life and spirituality contemplater. Writer and performer.

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