Spring Home Buying Tips that EVERY Buyer Should Know
As the seasons change from fall and winter into spring many people start to focus on multiple activities. Baseball season is in full swing, young ladies are making plans for upcoming weddings and hopeful buyers are looking to purchase a home.
Without question, spring is the most popular season to buy or sell a home. To help those of you that fall in the buyer’s category, we have assembled some advice to help you through the home purchase process with the following spring home buying tips.
Although the tips listed below seem concentrated on helping first-time home buyers, anyone that is looking to purchase a house in the spring will gain some insight from the following advice.
Talk to a Mortgage Lender FIRST
Although some experts suggest that potential buyers talk to a real estate agent first, that is a bit counter-productive. Real estate agents will be happy to help you find a home, just as soon as you have secured a mortgage pre-approval letter from a local mortgage lender.
When you have a pre-approval letter from a lender, you can make a serious offer on a home. Many sellers will ask for some type of proof that you have either the cash or financing before signing an offer. Also, you will want to make sure the home doesn't disqualify your mortgage pre-approval!
Your lender is tasked with finding the best mortgage to fit your needs. While it is true that your credit history and income play a huge part in getting approved for a mortgage, you also need to share with your lender your plans.
For example, if you are looking for a starter home with plans to buy a bigger home later on, you may be interested in a low down payment home with an ARM mortgage.
Providing all of your financial information to the lender will make it easier for the loan officer to help you choose the right mortgage that fits your needs not only now but also in the future.
Pick a Real Estate Agent
It is wise to talk to multiple sources and get referrals for a quality real estate agent. Your co-workers, relatives, and friends will likely all have their own opinion about whom you should pick as your agent. Get information from these folks and then call a few agents. Since you will likely be dealing with this agent for at least a month or more, it is wise to pick someone that is not only good at their job but someone that you like as well. It is critical to pick the right real estate agent!
If at all possible, pick someone that specializes in the area of town where you hope to live. Some markets are big enough that agents will choose to work in select areas, making them a bit of a local expert. These people can thoroughly answer your questions about potential homes for sale as well as the general area.
Do a Drive-by
Many would-be homeowners only visit their potential new home right after work or on a Sunday afternoon and make a quick decision about the house and neighborhood. However, there is a better way to investigate a home.
You should take some time to visit the home early in the morning, late at night, and at various times on the weekend. Take note of everything you see. Keep an eye out for the following items:
- children playing in the yard
- people working on projects outside
- the number of cars parked on the street
- the level of noise
- are people congregating at a particular home or place
All of these things can give you a feel for the neighborhood and indicate if this is a good fit for you and your needs. That leads us to the next point.
Do Some Homework on the Area
The location of the home is often just as important as the home itself. Do some research online about the area. A good place to start is to look at the crime levels. Certain areas seem to be more vulnerable to burglaries and other kinds of crime.
Another item to investigate is the presence, or lack of, various shopping options. Take note of places to buy food, clothes, and fuel for your car. This may sound too analytical but some people like having a grocery within walking distance or a convenience store that is on their way to work.
Lastly, look at the entertainment options. Maybe you are the type of person that enjoys losing themselves in a lavish museum or a well-stocked library. Perhaps you like to meet friends at a local pub for the weekly happy hour.
Whatever your preference, be sure they see what is available at your prospective new place. Buying a home should not mean that you suddenly give up your hobbies or your social life simply because you are in an inconvenient location.
Distinguish What You Want vs What You Need
People rarely find a perfect home in a perfect location. For this reason, it is important to know what qualities you MUST have versus things that would be nice, but you could live without.
Write down all the things that you truly like now about your current living situation. Also, write out the things that drive you nuts about your current place. These things will help you decide on the most important items.
For example, if you are an empty nester looking for a small home in a quiet neighborhood, it probably does not make sense to look at a 4-bedroom house that is surrounded by college-aged students.
On the flip side, if you are a married couple with three kids and you long for a place where your children can play, a 2-bedroom condo likely will not fill your needs.
Be Prepared to Offer more Documentation
Although lending rules have eased up over the past 3 years, lenders still have the recent recession on their minds. Your mortgage loan officer may ask you for more information in the form of documents or an explanation. Keep good records of your checking accounts, savings accounts, and investment accounts. If you have any transaction, whether it is a sale or purchase, that is unusually large, be prepared to explain it.
An unusually large transaction is normally classified as a transaction bigger than one of your regular paychecks.
For example, if your normal paycheck is $2,078 every two weeks and you suddenly have a deposit of $4,800 from the sale of an old motorcycle, then you need to be prepared to show documentation for the sale.
If you have changed jobs, you may have to give details of the benefits package or potential commission to explain why the new job was a better option for you.
Be Ready to Strike
Once you are pre-approved for a mortgage and your real estate agent firmly understands your needs, be ready to make an offer on a home. We are currently in the midst of a seller’s market. This means that the number of people attempting to buy a home far outnumbers the available homes for sale. This puts the seller in the driver’s seat of the negotiations.
If your agent calls and states that they have something for you, don’t make an appointment for 4 days letter. Adjust your schedule and look at the home as soon as you can. The quicker you see the home and find out what the seller is looking for in the way of a contract, the quicker you can act.
Price is Not the Only Negotiating Point
A real estate contract usually contains multiple parts. Some sellers are in a hurry and need to sell fast. This means that they want to see concrete proof of financing and want to know that the buyer can take possession right away.
Other sellers are waiting for their homes to sell to have the funds to pay for another home. These sellers may be ready to sell their home to you but need to remain in the home for a few extra weeks while they negotiate the purchase of their next home.
Talk to your agent and ask them to find out as much as possible about the seller. Get input from your agent about ways to make your offer more attractive. Being flexible about closing dates, home inspections, home warranties, and certain contingencies can sway a seller to accept your offer over a similarly priced offer.
Be sure that You Like the Home
Unless there are some unforeseen circumstances, you will likely be in the home for at least 5 to 10 years. That may not sound like a very long time right now, but if you discover the layout of the kitchen leading into the living room makes your skin crawl after moving in, 5 years could be an eternity. Visit the home multiple times and inspect it slowly and carefully. It is better to let an offer pass you by than to pick a home that does not make you happy. While you are free to change your mind after you have made an offer to buy a home, there can be consequences for your choice.
It is also a good idea to take along an older relative or friend when you inspect the home. If this person has owned a home for a few years, they can rely on their experience to point out the pros and cons of your potential new home. This kind of input is invaluable to a person buying their first home.
Considering the size of the average home price, it makes sense to take your time and thoroughly investigate your options before signing a contract. For some people, this could be the only home they buy, while others may go on to buy 4, 5, or 10 more homes in their lifetime. This will be the place where you go to sleep, where you visit with friends and family, where you retreat after work, and, hopefully, where you can be yourself. Use these spring home buying tips to put together your plan for buying a home. Your future self will be grateful for all the hard work that you are doing now.
Spring Home Buying Tips from TOP Real Estate Pros!
We solicited our network of professional real estate agents to get their input on spring home-buying tips. Since most experienced real estate agents have dealt with several first-time home buyers, their advice and experience can be extremely valuable.
Kyle Hiscock | Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, e-PRO®, & REALTOR
For some additional tips for first-time home buyers looking to buy a home during the spring, I reached out to Kyle Hiscock, one of the top real estate agents in Rochester NY with Nothnagle Realtors. Kyle has helped hundreds of buyers and sellers move in, out, and around Rochester since 2011! Kyle actively writes helpful content on his popular, Rochester’s Real Estate Blog.
Luke, thanks for reaching out for some tips for first time buyers who are looking to buy a home this spring!
First-time home buyers must realize that if they are purchasing a home during the spring, they will likely be facing some stiff competition. Traditionally in most real estate markets, the spring market will likely have lots of buyers competing for the same homes. Since this is probably the case, first-time home buyers must be approved for a mortgage. Many buyers don’t understand the mortgage process. Buyers who know how to get approved for a mortgage when buying a home give themselves an advantage over their fellow buyers who are in the market to buy a home.
First-time home buyers who are purchasing a home during the spring also need to realize that they need to be ready to act. If a home is listed for sale, is priced well, and is marketed properly, it will be sold within a couple of days of being listed. Buyers who are not ready to act will lose out on homes that they love. Buying a home in a seller’s market, which the spring generally is, requires buyers to be fully committed to finding a home. This may mean they need to find a way to view properties that may not be convenient for them, otherwise, they may lose out on a home or several.
The bottom line, buying a home in the spring market can be a success if the proper first-time home buyer tips are followed. Buyers who are approved for a mortgage, who have hired a top Realtor®, and who are ready to act will put themselves in a great position to find their first home!
Debbie Drummond | Las Vegas Realtor®
Debbie Drummond, top producing Realtor® in Las Vegas. Specializing in luxury homes, golf course communities, and high-rise properties.
If you want to buy a home this spring you should start getting ready now. The first step is to get a mortgage pre-approval. The supply of homes for sale is just over 3% in many markets. On top of the shortage of inventory, you will have competition from other buyers. You’ll need pre-approval so that you’re ready to make an offer when you find the home you want.
Along with getting the mortgage pre-approval, find a Realtor to represent you. Top Realtors will have a website that’s designed to make the home search easy. The agent will also help you save a search so you see new listings as soon as they hit the market. Working with your Realtor is much easier than looking at outdated listings on National sites.
When you find a home that you want, listen to your Realtor. They can provide comps to show you similar homes sold for. They’ll take into consideration the condition of the home and the home’s location. Decide what to offer based on the comps your Realtor shows you. Those online home evaluations are amusing but not reliable. The computer that generates them has never seen the homes that sold or the ones you’re buying. You and your agent have.
If the home you want is priced right and in good shape, don’t waste time. Put your offer in before another buyer grabs it.
Anita Clark provides residential real estate services to both buyers and sellers in the Kathleen Real Estate market and surrounding Houston County GA communities.
The home buying process can be overwhelming, especially if you are a first-time buyer and not sure what you need to do. It is always a good idea to get pre-approved with a lender so you know the price range you feel most comfortable with. Next, you should choose an agent to work with (do some upfront research) then you can start searching neighborhoods you would like to live in and communities that meet your needs.
Your agent is there to help so lean on them, listen to their advice, and take notes as you visit properties. Motivated sellers typically stand out because the first impression you get is of a well-maintained yard ready for the spring market. It often improves as you enter the home so be sure to stay focused on the things that are important to you. If all goes as planned, you should be enjoying the home of your dreams long before summer arrives!
Xavier De Buck | Northcliff (Johannesburg) Real Estate Agent
Xavier De Buck, a top-producing Northcliff (Johannesburg) real estate agent with Pam Golding Properties, shares his knowledge and expertise by assisting buyers and sellers in achieving their lifelong dreams of owning property.
What’s the #1 thing first-time home buyers tend to do? Once they’ve decided they’re going to buy a property, they get excited (rightfully so!) and start browsing the property portals for potential homes in their desired area! Besides the look, they’re also filtering through the selection of available homes using some rough affordability calculations they’ve done in their heads, all based on their gross salaries.
How about you set yourself apart from this crowd (who you will be competing against when it’s time to put an offer forward!) by taking the time to prepare yourself for the home-buying process? If you’re a serious home buyer, you should be aware of the importance of getting pre-approved for a mortgage! Don’t be fooled into thinking that getting pre-qualified is the same as being pre-approved! It might turn out that this was one of the reasons why your offer to purchase a house was rejected!
It won’t be until afterward that you realize how big of an impact some of those seemingly small mistakes can have on your home buying (and mortgage application) process! There are so many first-time home buyer mortgage mistakes one can make which are so easily avoidable!
Going in unprepared can cost you a lot of unnecessary emotional stress and will very likely, hurt you financially as well! Learn from someone else’s mortgage mistakes and hopefully avoid them going forward! Have a read of the full article linked above, or page through this quick 13-slide SlideShare summary:
Bill Gassett | Ashland Massachusetts Real Estate Agent
Bill Gassett, one of the top real estate experts in Northbridge Mass, offered up some great tips for getting your home ready for the spring home-selling season.
With Spring just around the corner, I reached out to Bill Gassett, a Real Estate agent in the Hopkinton Massachusetts area who runs the popular blog Maximum Real Estate Exposure. Bill's tips for buying a home in the spring apply to any time of the year. He provided me with a guide on how to make the home buying process easier, especially for a first-time home buyer.
One extra tip Bill mentioned is understanding the current market conditions. Considering spring is the busiest time of year in nearly every market across the country, buyers need to understand when they find a house moving quickly is essential. So many buyers do not realize that when spring gets here buyers are in the market in full force. There are times a first-time home buyer does not move quickly enough on their dream home and ends up losing it to someone else. On occasion, the buyer will think their agent is just being pushy. Sometimes this is not the case. It is smart to know the local market conditions and act accordingly.
Paul Sian | Ohio and Kentucky Real Estate Agent
Paul Sian is a Realtor in the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio area with over 10 years of experience.
The Greater Cincinnati, Ohio real estate springtime market is when most buyers and sellers are out in full force. The statistics show consistently that most home sales and purchases happen during the spring. As a buyer looking to buy in the spring, you need to do a few things to ensure a successful purchase.
It is important you first make sure your credit is in order so that you can get qualified for a mortgage. A mortgage pre-approval is an important first step in your home-buying adventure. The pre-approval gives you an idea of what price range of homes you should be looking at and more importantly helps you plan your budget in the future when you are paying for a mortgage along with the additional expenses of owning a home. Buy a home that is within your means and not one that will stretch your budget so you don’t end up house poor.
While sellers are told curb appeal is great to help draw buyers in, as a buyer you should look beyond the surface looks of curb appeal. First off curb appeal may not be there just yet since we have just gotten out of the winter freeze and the plush greenery and colorful flowers take time to come back. Flowers that may have been planted to improve curb appeal also may have died due to a surprise frost. The landscaping look of a home is easy to change and can be a DIY project so it should not turn you off on a home simply because the curb appeal is lacking.
When looking at the exterior of a home you should be looking for signs of winter damage that may have not been addressed and may cause problems in the future. Look for damaged gutters that are not properly draining away from the home, show signs of leaking, or are loose or in danger of falling off. Look at the roof to see if there are any signs of missing or loose shingles. Look at the siding and the foundation to see if any signs of shifting or cracking should be examined closer.
For the interior of the home, you should check for signs of frozen pipe damage that may have caused leaks. If you see signs of water damage you should always inspect those areas close to make sure the leak was stopped and there is no untreated mold growth as a result of the water. With the temperatures being cooler out it may not be possible to test the air conditioning unit. Often a home warranty can protect you in the event the air conditioner in a home you just purchase ends up being non-functional.
Greg Hancock | Ohio Real Estate Agent
Ohio Realtor, webmaster, social media, and blogging are what I do for our business. Love the Cincinnati metro area. A foodie, and a big fan of dogs and pets, I'm human and so is my business partner Marty Snyder, one of Ohio's Top 5% Realtors. Together we buy and sell dozens of homes every year, working with first-time buyers hunting bargains to middle-of-the-road and luxury home buyers.
Marty and I cover all the bases and working with us you get not one but two Realtors working for you. Love what I do, and wouldn't have it any other way. It's a grand feeling to help someone fulfill their dream of home ownership or get their current home sold timely for as much net as possible so they can move forward.
I spend a great deal of my time answering questions for those that call or contact us through our site, while Marty is out and about, showing homes and meeting with clients.
Spring always tends to show a spike in consumer spending and credit card use and how consumers utilize credit cards can really help or adversely affect the ability to buy a home.
Realize that lenders examine the debt-to-income ratio for mortgage preapprovals, and focus on keeping or getting that debt to under 40% of your income.
With credit cards, keep your balance at 30% or less of your credit limit for a positive impact on your credit score, 10%-20% is even better.
Don't pay off or close any revolving credit accounts. That's right, don't pay them off but maintain small balances. Closing a credit account with established history or paying a card down to zero will hurt your credit.
Don't open any new credit card accounts unless you don't have one. It takes about 6 months to show established history and credit usage behavior. Opening a new account is a hit to your credit at first.
Once you have a home under contract, do not go out and start spending large and charging on credit. Your credit will be checked again just before closing, and while you may feel like celebrating you could end up crying for being denied at the last minute and unable to close on your new home.
Summing Up Spring Home Buying Tips
Considering the size of the average home price, it makes sense to take your time and thoroughly investigate your options before signing a contract. For some people, this could be the only home they buy, while others may go on to buy 4, 5, or 10 more homes in their lifetime. This will be the place where go to sleep, where you visit with friends and family, where you retreat after work, and, hopefully, where you can be yourself. Use these spring home buying tips to put together your plan for buying a home. Your future self will be grateful for all the hard work that you are doing now.
Additional Home Buying and First Time Home Buyer Resources
Luxury Home Buying Tips by Debbie Drummond
10 Incredibly Helpful Blogs For Home Buyers by David R. MIllar
Why Buying on the Lower End of Your House Budget Is Smart by Keadle Real Estate Group
13 Things Buyers Need To Know In A Seller's Market by Angela Duong