As you probably already know, home sales begin climbing in the spring, peak in June and July, and then taper off in August. Regardless of region or climate zone, people are twice as likely to move during the summer months than the winter months, according to one study.
Thinking about getting in on the action? We talked to Stephanie Hanson, senior housing counselor at Community Development Corporation of Utah, about the pros and cons of buying a home during this busy time.
Pro: You can see the whole picture
“A big advantage of buying in spring to fall is that you can see everything that a house has to offer,” Hanson says. “Nothing’s covered in snow. Not every area of the country has that problem, but we sure do here in Utah. You can turn on the sprinkler system, turn on the AC and the heat. It’s a lot easier to see what kind of care has been taken with both the yard and the home. It's a lot easier to get up on the roof. It’s really the best time to see the whole picture.”
Con: You have to move fast
On the other hand, things can move at quite a clip. “You might have to make multiple offers to get one house under contract,” Hanson says. “I think a lot of people expect to go out there and fall in love with a certain house, and to get to think about it and then make an offer. But you don’t necessarily have a lot of time to ponder before you make an offer. And feeling rushed doesn’t usually help you make a good decision.”
You might not even have time to see the house. “In the peak market,” she says, “a lot of times people are offering full price sight unseen. They’ll see it online and make an offer, never having set foot in the house.”
Pro: More homes to choose from
A busy marketplace means more inventory. “There’s more selection in your price range,” Hanson says. “It's nice that if one house falls through, there tends to be other homes in your price range in the area where you want to live.”
Con: Less financial assistance
You’d think that government money would be flowing when homebuyers need it, but not necessarily. “The fiscal year usually starts in July,” Hanson says. “So we get renewed funding for down payment assistance in July. We tend to have those funds through the winter, and then by early summer, they’re gone. When you’re buying in spring or early summer, you can miss out on that.”
She notes that assistance programs may vary from region to region; ask your local homeownership advisor about what constitutes good timing in your area.
Pro: You might have more in your pocket
“Sometimes, buying in the summer, you tend to have more money available, maybe from tax refunds. And it's not Christmastime. I think that motivates a lot of people to buy right now too.”
Con: You can forget negotiating
“Another thing that happens in the summer is that it’s a little bit more of a seller’s market. It's harder to get contingencies from the seller, like paying the closing costs. Often, you have to go in with your highest and best offer if you want to get your offer accepted. You need to prepare yourself for that. You may get that first house you look at, but mostly likely you’ll find yourself making offers on multiple homes over the course of a few months before you find the right one at the right price.”
The right season to buy? Yours
“A big mistake people make is to rush into things,” Hanson says. “A lot of people think interest rates are going to go up or whatever. Maybe it’s what everyone else is doing. Or we enter a certain demographic—we become new parents, or young newlyweds. You know, ‘Oh, they just got married, and they bought a house.’ That doesn’t mean you need to do it. I feel like, if now’s not the right time, then it’s not the right time. It’s okay.”
“We have a gal who’s worked here for four years,” she says. “She got married and everything during that time, and she teaches people every day about buying a home. She could easily afford it, she has the savings, she has everything in place to buy a home. But she’s choosing not to because of certain factors, certain goals that she and her husband have together, investing in a business instead of a home. So it’s better for them to not buy, even though interest rates are really low, and prices are low. She knows it’s not right for her.”
If peak season is your time, check back here for our next post, where our chat with Stephanie Hanson will continue with some peak-season must-dos.