Got homeownership on the brain? Before you take the plunge (or decide to sell your current space), it’s worth asking: When is the best time to buy a house? Now? In six months? Never? We chatted with a small group of experts (a realtor, a financial advisor and a mortgage broker) to find out.
This Is the Best Time to Buy a House, According to a Realtor, a Financial Advisor and a Mortgage Broker
So, when is the best time to buy a house?
According to New York real estate broker Jocelyn Cloder, late fall and early winter is lower on inventory, but best for savings. A recent Zillow study confirms this: 26 percent of springtime buyers paid above asking price, while only 15 percent of buyers shopping in November did.
It’s also smart to avoid buying during busy times of year, like the back-to-school season, when there’s lots of competition. But if you wait and buy just after the school year has started, there just might be increased inventory, says Cloder.
Caroline McCarthy, vice president at Own Up, a company that helps consumers get fair deals on home financing, echoes this: “Spring and summer are the most popular times to buy since many families want to be fully moved in for the start of the school year,” she says. But this timeline can ebb and flow. “For example, COVID-19 has upended the traditional homebuying seasonality this year, with some of the spring/summer market spilling into fall.”
When is the best time to sell a house?
But what if you need to sell a house before you can move into a new one? Well, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of making a nice profit. A Zillow analysis of listing and home sales data from 2019 revealed that homes listed on a Thursday are not only more likely to sell faster, but are also more likely to sell above list price than those listed on any other day of the week. In addition, spring and summer continue to be peak seasons to sell. Of course, you may not be able to wait months for prime selling season, but what you can do is post your home listing on a Thursday (rather than, say, a Monday). Another way to elevate your home above the rest? Focus on little ways to boost your curb appeal (like maybe repainting your red kitchen or sprucing up your front yard).
Remember, the best time to buy a house is when you’re ready
Thanks to the pandemic, home inventory and mortgage rates are particularly favorable right now. But how do you know if you’re actually ready to strike while the iron is hot? But how do you know if you’re actually ready to strike while the iron is hot? Start with these three questions, says Priya Malani, co-founder and CEO of Stash Wealth, a virtual financial planning and advising firm.
- Do I have enough cash in the bank for a down payment and closing costs?
- Am I going to qualify for a mortgage?
- Will I be able to maintain my desired quality of life with this monthly mortgage payment?
If you can answer yes to questions one and two, but not to three, you may want to pause, Malani explains. “It’s important to ensure you’re still able to live your current lifestyle while staying prepared for the unexpected expenses that crop up when owning a home.” (Malani recommends earmarking one percent per year of the home’s price for unexpected maintenance and repairs.)
And remember, your mortgage isn’t the only cost. “Do you have the time and the ability to cover taxes, insurance, unexpected repairs and HOA dues?” Malani asks. Plus, just because you pre-qualify for a larger loan, it doesn’t mean you can afford to carry that cost. “Mortgage lenders are incentivized to sell you a bigger mortgage because they make money off of the interest. A larger mortgage equates to more interest, but you want to be able to live a life you enjoy after incurring the expenses of owning.”