I've found through the increasing amount of people that I speak with about home ownership that a recurring question that arises is "When is the best time to buy/sell?". My response, while I’m sure is not as specific as my questioner would have liked is often "The best time to buy/sell is when you're ready to!". The truth of the matter is, just as the seasons change so does the real estate market and if you can match your preparedness with the best times in the market then you've got it made!
It really is no surprise that during the months from February to May your mailbox will be filled with postcards, flyers and all sorts of cheesy (sometimes impressive) promotional material saying... "SELL YOUR HOME WITH ME! #1 Realtor in the City!". Why don't you see these ads in the winter time you ask? Well one fact about real estate is spring is the most popular time to buy/sell! The flowers are blooming, people are smiling, we're driving with our windows down, walking in the park soaking in the sun...and so are future home owners.
Before you get all caught up in the hype of the weather and the promotional material, there are a few quick facts to keep in mind before heading off into the sunset as a successful seller of your home or new buyer:
Tip #1: Know What You Want and Need
One of the first things you should do before going out and looking at new places is make a list of your "Must Haves" and your "Extras". This will significantly help you and your Realtor narrow down your search and you will find your new home that much faster!
Tip #2: Research and Get Mortgage Pre-Qualified
Many first time buyers are scared when it comes to making one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives, which is natural! Talk to professionals you trust to get answers to tough questions. It’s also extremely important to talk to a mortgage broker or a bank about getting pre-approved for a mortgage! Few things hurt more than falling in love with a property that you find out afterwards is out of your price range for a mortgage.
Tip #3: Expect the Unexpected
No one really wants to run into the big bad wolf during their experience as a home owner, however, some unexpected events can and will transpire during your years as a home owner. Some of the unexpected include repairs around the house like a leaky roof, basement or even a broken furnace. However, if you choose to opt for a condo, then that's what why you pay your maintenance fees (which can creep upwards in cost annually!).
Most Common Pitfall of Buyers: Being House Poor
As much as you would love to have the "perfect" home, you don't want to end up struggling to pay for your mortgage each month and lack the ability to have adequate furniture or even the ability to have a couple friends over due to cost. Buy according to your needs and move up as your needs and affordability allow.
Tip #1: Get a FREE Home Value Assessment
Many Realtors offer FREE home value assessments which will show you similar homes in your area that have sold in the last 6-9 months. This will allow you to dictate what your home can realistically sell for based on the market and will prevent you from overpricing your home which can deter potential buyers!
Tip #2: De-clutter/Depersonalize
When selling your home some of the most important things you can do is to get as many of your personal items and belongings out of sight. Not to take it personally, but potential buyers coming through your home are trying to imagine themselves living there and the pictures of your family on the wall and the magnets all over the fridge are not going to attract the buyers attention in the right way.
Tip #3: Curb Appeal and Atmosphere
If you ask any professional in the industry and any past home buyer, they will tell you that the curb appeal of your home and the atmosphere when they walk in is key to telling them whether they are interested. Simple things like lighting candles, leaving windows open and landscaping makes a big difference in whether people will walk in or drive by.
Most Common Pitfall of Sellers: Overpricing
Of course you want to get as much money as possible and you think your home is worth the most! Remember that buyers have limitations on what they can spend and homes priced too high are an immediate turn off!