8 reasons why fall is a great time to buy a home
At this point, it’s commonly accepted wisdom that the spring is the best time to buy and sell a home. For many years, that thinking made sense: you buy a home in the spring, so that you can move in during the summer, so that your kids can be settled in by the time they have to go to their new schools in the fall.
The flaw in this thinking, however, is that a lot of people think the same way. And when there are many homebuyers, there is more competition for the homes that are available.
That’s why savvy home shoppers know that fall is just as great a season to buy a home as the spring – if not greater.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. There are fewer shoppers
As we mentioned above, this is the number one reason that the spring selling season is overrated. After all, it’s more commonly called the spring selling season—not the spring buying season—for a reason. It’s a great time to get top dollar for your home when there are so many eager buyers driving up the price.
But that competition cools off in the fall.
A recent report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows a year-over-year trend of home sales spiking from the spring through the summer months, then tapering off as soon as back-to-school time arrives. You can see why sellers are anxious to get their homes on the market at the beginning of that spending spree.
If you can wait out the market and jump in after the spring and summer rush, the benefits are far more than more elbow room at the open house. Fewer home buyers lead directly to the next reason fall is a great time to buy…
2. Prices tend to drop
That same NAR report that showed sales dipping once the temperatures dropped also shows home prices falling during the fall as well. This could be a reflection of a large group of sellers who missed out on the hot selling season and are now more motivated to get out from under their home payments.
You may be worried that any home left on the market as fall hits must have some sort of issue with it. Otherwise, why would it still be for sale? But there are many reasons that the home may be sitting there on your favorite home listing site:
- The seller’s life is changing, and he or she needs to sell the home quickly
- The seller needed to make improvements before listing and couldn’t get them done in time
- The seller didn’t find the right buyer during the spring or the summer
- A sale fell through in the spring, and the seller had to fix the issue before relisting the home
- The seller may also want take advantage of a slower selling season, when there will be fewer comparable homes
3. You’ll be able to take your time
Buying a home is usually one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make in your life. You don’t want to rush into anything, but if you’re competing with many other eager homebuyers, you may not have much time to consider a home before putting in an offer. You won’t feel that pressure during the fall.
A recent survey of new homeowners conducted by Bankrate found that nearly 64% of millennial homebuyers have regrets about their decision. Some of the most common misgivings are around the financial commitment being too great and the size of the home not fitting their needs. Two issues that if these new homeowners had more time to run the numbers and identify how much home they truly needed, they may have been able to avoid.
4. Get a more accurate view of the home
Take a look at the photos of almost any home listing, and you’ll notice that the sky is blue and the plants are in full bloom. There’s a reason for that. Home sellers are putting their home in the best light to sell them. And the same is true when you go and see the home during a sunny spring or summer day.
When you see the home during the fall, you may get a chance to get a more accurate view of the home. You could see how the yard looks when the flowers aren’t blooming and the leaves have fallen off the trees. You may be able to see deficiencies in the home that the landscaping was covering during the summer.
And you’ll also get to see how the neighborhood feels. During the summer, kids aren’t in school, and families are leaving for vacation. It’s the least “normal” time of year. But fall will give you a sense of your new surroundings for the majority of the year.
5. More attention from agents, appraisers, loan officers and others
One unfortunate fallout from the crazy market of this past year is how stretched thin real estate professionals were. And not just agents; we saw purchase slowdowns because there weren’t enough hours in the day for the appraisers to visit all the houses that needed to be appraised.
But with fewer sales happening in the fall, you’ll have more of your agent’s and loan officer’s time and attention, and appraisers are more likely to be able to see your home sooner.
6. Flexibility on moving dates
You can’t always choose your moving date, but when you’re in a heated competition with other buyers during the spring, that becomes a heated point in the negotiations. The seller may choose another offer because that buyer’s move-in date lined up better with their moving-out plans. Everything becomes a negotiation tactic in a seller’s market.
No such worries in the fall. Because the seller could be more motivated, they’ll likely be more flexible on things like the move-in date. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
7. More workmen available
As you go through open houses, are you keeping a mental list of the upgrades the place will need? Well, you’ll need a little luck finding the workmen to do that during the busy spring and summer seasons. A lot of renovation projects happen in just-purchased homes, and they’re not all of the whole-home, fixer-upper variety.
Work for the tradesman, contractors, handymen (even movers) you’ll need tends to slow up during the fall and into the winter. Meaning you won’t have to wait as long to make your new home your dream home once you move in.
8. Put your new furniture needs on your wish list
One nice thing about buying a home in the fall is that it’s almost holiday season. Your new home has new spaces for you to decorate and spots for new furniture, and those are great items to put on your holiday wish list. Maybe grandma is willing to spring for that new dining room table you’ve got your eye on?
The flip side of this is that you may have hopes to be completely moved in by the time the holidays arrive. If you’re waiting for furniture to arrive via Santa or some other holiday gift-giver, your home may not feel finished. This can add to the stress of moving and of the holidays, but keep in mind; it’s just one holiday season.
You can see that the spring has an undeserved reputation as being the best time to buy a home. The truth is that every season has its own benefits, and it’s incredibly difficult to time the purchase of something as major as a home purchase or a move.
The good news is, if you’re able to wait a few months, and don’t need to be settled in time for fall activities, waiting until the fall can offer you some big benefits.