Tips for Buying a Home in the Fall
by Ed Kunkel, Jr., U.S. Army Veteran and Realtor®
As a professional, this is truly one of my favorite times of the year. It’s not a time for the faint of heart, instead it’s a time for distinction – serious buyers and sellers only.
As a buyer in this market, here are some advantages for you:
There are fewer homes to look at
Yes, that is an advantage. The market is no longer clouded with the distraction of unrealistic sellers that inflate their value.
What you are left with are reasonable and motivated sellers that want to do business with you.
You can find more negotiating opportunities
During this time of the season, you might find a welcoming compromise with a motivated seller. Granted they might not be motivated by a low-ball offer, but they are definitely ready to move on with the sale of their home.
Use this motivation to your advantage, do you have specific needs that the seller can help you with.
Such help could be to provide storage space, or to rent the home prior to close of escrow, etc.
If you have a large down payment, and have been working with a lender and/or a credit restoration plan to build your credit, this may be the time to find a seller willing to do owner financing for a short term.
If you’re just looking for a bargain with a low ball offer, I’m going to suggest that you go strictly after distressed properties such as short sales and REO’s
It’s no fun for me as a professional to tell my buyer that we’re too late, someone else got the house.
Every market is different, and there’s never a guarantee that some other buyer won’t compete against you – it’s just less likely to happen during this time of year, and even more unlikely during winter.
If you don’t mind the inclement weather and moving your furniture during the holidays, this is a great time for you to be a consumer that endures less pressure to compete for a new home.
Weather conditions may challenge or benefit your inspection
This could pose a problem, or this could be an ideal time to pinpoint problems when you inspect a home in bad weather. If rain is in the forecast on inspection day, consider it a golden opportunity to find leaks in the roof, or problems with gutters, downspouts, or drainage issues.
Freezing temperatures will reveal problems with insulation, frozen pipes, potential hazards with overgrown trees and foliage that have ice and snow build up. If there’s doubt about a home’s condition due to weather factors, see about getting coverage through a home warranty plan to mitigate potential problems later.
Great time to look for home improvement deals
The consumer momentum for doing home improvements seems to start in the spring and fizzle beginning in fall. What happens when those big box stores have inventory lingering when the buying season is flat? They have sales. So, you find and buy your dream home in November but you hate the kitchen counters and cabinetry. Do you think you would find a sweet deal to help create your dream kitchen after Thanksgiving? You are very likely to be pleasantly surprised by finding deals on cabinetry, appliances, and other needs to make your home complete.
Use a seasonal strategy
To begin with, never underestimate the negative physiological impact a low ball offer has on a seller. Not only is your offer likely to come back as a ‘No’, but the seller now has a low impression of you and will likely not be open to doing business with you. This is especially disappointing when it’s likely that you and the seller could have reached a mutual agreement.
That being said, if you’re looking for a practical strategy with some leverage for your success with a cooperative seller, here’s and idea to put to practice. In September, view at least 10 homes that suit your interests the most. Revisit them if you have to, and look carefully at home’s condition and the condition of the surrounding property. Decide which ones you would buy, and wait until the timeframe between Thanksgiving and New Years to see which homes are left.
This may be your opportunity for a great deal, or a very flexible seller to help you facilitate your progress.
Ed Kunkel, Jr. is a Managing Broker/Realtor® at Keller Williams Realty in Olympia, Washington. Ed’s Military History: Veteran – U.S. Army and Air Force Reserve; Highest rank, E5; 11 years combined military service.