While the spring and summer months are the most popular time of year to buy or list a home, the real estate market is open 365 days a year. If you missed the summer homebuying season, fall is still a great time to buy a home for the following reasons.
School Year and Holidays
A study conducted by ERA Real Estate found that 40% of real estate agents' clients cited the end of vacation season and a back-to-school mentality as reasons they refocused on buying or selling their home.
Twenty percent of brokers and agents also cited that buyers wanting to be in a new home for the holidays was a major reason for fall homebuying. Buying in early fall allows you to move without uprooting your kids in the middle of the school year and gives you time to get settled in before the holidays.
The spring and summer housing markets often have quick turnarounds. One day you're looking at a potential home purchase, the next day someone has swooped in and snagged it. While the time homes sit on the market varies greatly by area, autumn can warrant a steady selection of homes for homebuyers who are just starting their search.
Though fall is still a busier homebuying season than winter, buyers are less likely to see the heavy traffic of spring and summer homebuying. With that being said, there is less competition when it comes to making an offer, which allows you more time to browse homes and consider them at a more leisurely pace.
Regardless of the season you plan to purchase a home, you have a greater advantage over other buyers by meeting with a mortgage banker and receiving a pre-approval or a loan commitment (even better) prior to making an offer.
Motivated Sellers & Home Prices
A home that sat on the market all summer may incline its owners to bring down their sale price or increase their willingness to negotiate. Because spring is the best time to list a home, a fall seller may have a pressing reason, such as a job relocation, for putting their home on the market later in the year, giving buyers more negotiating power.
According the National Association of Realtors, home prices tend to decrease an average $7,000 after Labor Day, especially in the Midwest. The NAR also found that home prices in the Midwest fall an average $10,000 between August and September. In the Northeast, the average price drop is nearly $20,000 by October.
Moving Before Inclement Weather
Bottom line is that no one wants to move their entire household in the middle of an ice or snow storm, making autumn a second best for moving weather.
Observing Maintenance Areas
Home energy efficiency is a top-list item for many homebuyers. Walking through homes during the fall can give you a better idea of how efficient a home is during the cooler months. Pay special attention to gutter drainage, general yard upkeep, drafts around windows and doors, and furnace function.
As mentioned previously, the first step in homebuying should always be meeting with a mortgage banker, regardless of the season. For more information about buying and financing your first home, download our free Mortgage 101 Handbook, a great resource for the first-time homebuyer.