In light of declining sales over the last few years and much tougher loan requirements, many potential buyers are asking if they should buy now, or wait several months before moving forward with a decision. The thing is, you can't time the real estate market any more than you can time the stock market. Simply put, the best time to buy is simply when you're ready to do so. I heard someone mention in an interview recently that a lot of people will look back in a few years and wish they had made a real estate purchase in 2012 when they could still get a good deal for their investment. If this feels like the right time, then you probably shouldn't hesitate!
Start searching now, targeting your preferred locations and getting a sense of the local trends. Speak with local real estate professionals to gauge listing times, list-to-sale ratios, and contract terms. There’s no such thing as a “national” market, and every area is going through its own adjustments, up or down. Locally, we are again seeing multiple offer situations in some cases, especially on foreclosed properties and short sales. Competition can get fierce, so be prepared! While summer is the best time to sell a house, we see year-round home sales in our communities.
Now isn’t a bad time to begin your loan search as well, to determine how much home you can afford, and to start assembling the required paperwork. If you're not pressured to move right now, securing loan pre-approval will give you the chance to immediately take advantage if an excellent purchase opportunity appears. Considering how low interest rates have gotten, it's a great time to explore your mortgage opportunities. Even if your credit isn't A plus, you may qualify for an FHA loan and put as little as 3.5% down. Yes, it's tougher to buy a home than it was a few years ago, but this current market is more realistic and you should end up with the right house in the right price range by doing your loan homework first.
Owners who are pressured to sell for reasons like foreclosure or job relocation may be more willing to negotiate, but if you really love a particular home, don't lose it by haggling over a few thousand dollars. I have seen sellers and buyers hit a wall when they are 98% of the way there. Be realistic! A home is not a stock certificate. In a buyer's market, take your time, do your homework, and make the most of it. Buying a home now could mean good equity in the years to come. Remember, real estate is a long-term investment.