The summer real estate season is a great time to buy a home. Before you speak to a real estate agent or start hunting for new properties online, there are a few crucial steps to take to ensure that you find a home you’ll love and cherish.
Buying a home during the summer is a bit different than in other seasons, so preparing early will help you get the home of your dreams and the best deal possible.
5 Steps to Buy Your Dream Home This Summer
- Get Pre-Approved Now
- Start Saving Early
- Know What You Want
- Discover Listings Before They Hit the Market
- Be Willing to Wait Out the Summer
Get Pre-Approved Now
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage before you start shopping can help home buyers stand out, particularly during a highly competitive summer market.
A mortgage pre-approval helps buyers determine how much money they can borrow to buy a home. The lender will look at things like your income, credit score, and assets to determine which loans product is the best fit and how much you can borrow.
Having this information before you start the house-hunting process helps you avoid budgeting mistakes, since you’ll know upfront which homes you can afford. Keep in mind that getting a pre-approval doesn’t guarantee that you will be approved for a home loan, but it can give you leverage while you’re looking for a property.
Many real estate agents want buyers to get pre-approved to make the process easier and more streamlined. Your offer will also be much stronger, especially if you’re a first-time buyer.
Sellers want to make sure that they are getting strong offers from well-qualified buyers, so they can close quickly. Having a pre-approval letter shows sellers that you shouldn’t have any issues getting financed for the amount you are offering them.
Being pre-approved also helps you get a lot of the mortgage process out of the way, since providing crucial documentation is always required by lenders and mortgage brokers when seeking a home loan.
Start Saving Early
Start saving your money as early as possible, so you’ll have an optimal down payment ready when shopping for a new home during the summer.
Saving your money early will also help you accumulate cash, if you’re planning to make a cash offer. Making a cash offer almost always guarantees that you will get the home you want, since the closing process is much faster and easier for both parties. All cash offers are also attractive to sellers as they are less risky since they are rarely tied to a contingency sale of a pre-existing home.
However, if you need to obtain a mortgage, then having the down payment ready will help you get a better rate and speed up the buying process. The higher the down payment, the more amenable sellers will be to accepting your offer over other buyers.
A substantial down payment can also result in lower monthly mortgage payments. If you can lower the Loan-to-Value ratio (LTV), you may also qualify for a lower interest rate and lower buyer’s fees. People who pay a minimum of 20% down will also be able to avoid the extra cost of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). This results in a lower monthly payment overall. The sooner you can start saving, the more you’ll have available when you’re ready to shop for a home.
Know What You Want
Whether you’re shopping for a new construction home or an older property, it’s very important to know exactly what you want in a home before you enter a competitive buying season.
Write down a comprehensive list of your must-haves, your wants, and the things you don’t want in a home, too. Don’t be afraid to make an offer on a property that needs a little bit of repairs or upgrades. You might be able to negotiate the price downward if the home needs some work. Look carefully at the homes you’re interested in and think about whether or not you can envision yourself and your family living there for years into the future.
The more properties you look at, the more confident you will become in choosing a home that is an overall optimal fit.
While shopping, also remember to take the location of the home into account. Think about how close you are to amenities like schools, hospitals, and shopping. Keep other costs in mind besides the mortgage, including the average monthly cost of utilities to keep the home cooled and heated, property taxes, HOA fees, insurance and other service and maintenance costs. When encountering a property that isn’t perfect (few are), have a home improvement plan in mind to prioritize immediate upgrade needs and what can be postponed. Use your list as you shop for homes to help you narrow down your choices as you go.
Discover Listings Before They Hit the Market
One of the best ways to get ahead of the summer competition is to find listings before they go on the market.
Ask your real estate agent about pocket listings, which are often undervalued homes that haven’t made it to the MLS system. These homes are shown exclusively to buyers through a real estate agent’s private network, but they’re usually only done between sellers and buyers who are already planning to make a deal.
Fortunately, there are other ways you can learn about homes before they are publicly listed. Ask your agent about homes that they think sellers are planning to list and when they might be made available. Be sure to let your agent know that you’re interested in considering unlisted properties.
Choose a neighborhood you really like and talk with some of the people who live there. They may have some insight about homes that could be ready to go up for sale soon. Get in touch with homeowner’s associations (HOAs) or talk to the board to find out if there are discussions about possible homes about to go on the market.
Another way to find listings before they hit the market is to look at pre-foreclosures or foreclosed homes. Some owners may prefer to walk away with cash rather than go through the foreclosure process. If you’re able to pay in cash, this is an excellent summer home-buying opportunity.
Be Willing to Wait Out the Summer
While spring is one of the hottest times of year to buy a home (figuratively), summer is quite a busy real estate season, as well.
Here are a few key things worth considering when you’re house hunting in the summer:
- Prepare to come in with a strong offer, and make sure that you’re pre-approved so you can close quickly
- The housing market tends to slow down in August, so choose the end of this month if you’re willing to wait for a better deal
- Home prices vary depending on your location, so if you can handle the heat, try to shop on hotter, humid days when fewer buyers are on the hunt
- There may be less inventory and delays in communication since many families are out of town for their summer vacations – so be patient!
- Try to hold off until the very end of summer if you’re looking for the best price on a home
- Overall, winter is the cheapest time of year to buy a home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find great prices in the summer with some perseverance
Remember these tips if you’re planning to buy a home during the hot summer real estate season. Whether you’re making a list of must-haves or starting to save money for a down payment, the sooner you can start planning, the better.
Get your pre-approval letter to ensure that you’ll have more leverage with sellers to encourage a quick sale. Try to search for homes before they hit the market, or choose to shop for new properties during late August to help you find the best deals on the home of your dreams!
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