Buying a Home in the Fall

buy-a-home-in-fallWe're heading into the cooler autumn months. Football season is in prime swing. The kids have been back in school for several weeks. And the holidays are right around the corner. But best of all about this time of year is the ability to claim a deal on a home. That's because those who buy a home in the fall can take advantage of many factors in their favor.

The best time to buy a home is when market conditions are preferable, competition is low, and interest rates are on the decline. That pretty accurately describes where we are right now. Practically any real estate agent will tell you: Buy a home in the fall of 2019 versus waiting until next year, when you may pay more.

There are many reasons why you want to act soon, without delay. Wait too long and this window of opportunity may close.

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Rates are near record lows

Checked mortgage interest rates lately? At the time of this writing, they remain near three-year lows. The Fed may even cut rates further in the coming weeks. The National Association of Realtors' chief economist Lawrence Yun even predicted recently that the 30-year fixed rate could drop to as low as 3.3% by late 2019.

A lower rate means you'll pay less over the life of your loan. It also equates to more purchasing power: You'll be able to afford a higher-priced home if you want one.

"Interest rates right now are the lowest we've seen in years," says Bryce Olson, a Realtor with The Bryce Is Right Team in Denton, Texas. "It's unknown what will happen next year, which will also be an election year, which makes it even less predictable. Rates could go up if you wait until next year."

Related: How to Negotiate a Better Mortgage Rate

Many sellers are more desperate

A lot of families like to purchase homes in the spring and summer months. That ensures their children are settled in before the start of the fall school year. We are now far past that point.

Homes that were listed in the summer months, but which haven't sold yet, are languishing on the market. These sellers may have to drop their prices if they haven't already. That represents an advantage for home shoppers.

"There is also generally a large increase in properties trying to sell before Thanksgiving and the holiday season bring the market to a harsh stop. The longer a property is on the market this time of year, the cheaper it gets," says Aimee Fink, agent with Douglas Elliman in New York City.

Also, in many markets, the 2019 spring and summer selling seasons were slow.

"That left huge pockets of inventory in many neighborhoods, regardless of price and location. This inventory continues to grow. As it does, prices continue to drop," Fink adds. "Waiting until 2020 could backfire, as inventory could be decreased by then."

Patient but diligent fall shoppers will likely be rewarded.

"The closer you get to the holidays, the more drastic the price cuts will be," notes Fink. "And being flexible with a move-out/move-in date will work to your advantage as well."

Related: Essential Tips for Holiday Home Sellers

There are fewer rivals for the same home

Another thing autumn buyers have in their favor? Mother Nature and her harsh uncertainties. This is the season when the days get shorter and the weather gets worse in many parts of the country. A lot of buyer prospects opt to wait for spring and avoid windy, rainy, snowy, and bitterly cold conditions that can happen by late autumn.

"As a result, sellers typically have fewer showings, especially during the week. In many parts of the country, the sun begins to set around the time people get off of work. This discourages them from looking at houses," says Benjamin Ross, Realtor with Mission Real Estate Group in San Antonio.

Additionally, "many diehard football fans set their schedule around Sunday games. This cuts into the time they are willing to look at a property," Ross adds.

The bottom line? There is less competition among fellow buyers. That means less of a chance for a bidding war or another buyer snatching up a property before you've even had a chance to visit it.

Remember, too, that house hunters with kids will likely remain on the sidelines. That's because they probably don't want to pull their children out of school and move into a new school district midway through the year.

Related: Why Buy a Home Now? Fall Is the New Spring

Be prepared

If you want to increase your chances of landing the best deal this fall, do your homework. Get preapproved for a mortgage. Have the necessary down payment saved up. Improve your credit score. And find the right professionals, including an experienced real estate agent and mortgage lender.

"No one has a crystal ball to predict the future. Next year, it could be a lot harder to get the home you want. Put yourself in a position to buy now, if you can afford it," says Fink.

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rachel frampton November 04, 2019 8:35 pm    

My husband plans to purchase an affordable home in California. I never knew that buying a house in the fall would be beneficial since there will be few rivals. I hope we'll be able to find a cozy house around Bakersfield at an affordable price.