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Why Fall Is the Best Time to Buy: A Shopper’s Guide to the Benefits of Autumn House Hunting

07/30/2018 Jerrica Kowcheck

RESOURCES BUYING A HOME

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Even in superheated housing markets, summer is the hottest season — and 2018 has been particularly brutal, fueled by declining inventory and strong demand. But by September, the real estate market cools down, along with outdoor temperatures. Which may mean it’s the perfect time to harvest a home.

“Fall is a great time to be in the market for a new home,” says Nancie Kosnoff, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Danforth in Seattle, Washington. “The spring and early-summer frenzy of buyers wanting to get into a home before school starts has settled down.”

So in autumn, a curious thing happens. Listing prices don’t drop — but sale prices do. That adorable colonial home may still be listed outside your price range, but you can avoid a bidding war, or even cut a deal with the homeowner. As a result, perhaps you’ll even pay below market value — up to 2.6% less, according to some estimates — and take out a smaller mortgage.

“Sellers are motivated, due to increased selling inventory and [less] competition from buyers,” Kosnoff says. “The market is more balanced and we can go back to creating ‘win-wins’ for buyers and sellers.”

Autumn shoppers tend to be those buying for the first-time, relocating, moving up or downsizing, or hoping to change houses within an area. “They’re serious buyers who are more analytical, because there’s more to choose from. The pace is a touch calmer,” says Chelsea E. Ialeggio, sales manager of Vanguard Properties in Marin County, California.

For first-time house hunters, more starter homes come on the market in the fall months, compared to spring, according to real estate website Trulia. In fact, starter-home inventory typically peaks in October. Starter homes are defined as a real estate market’s lowest-third in cost , among houses for sale. That’s often the range for first-time buyers.

First-time buyers who are ready to own a home versus rent an apartment can find great deals on essential equipment and appliances. According to Consumer Reports magazine, autumn coincides with the best time to buy certain household equipment and goods. In September, new homeowners can shop for paint and snowblowers. October may score you some steals in gas grills and lawn mowers. November brings a homebuyer’s bounty: blenders, fridges, TVs and coffee makers.

Autumn rains also mean your home inspector might spot problematic leaks. Ialeggio says, “It’s nice when we see rain, because we know what’s going on with the house,” her autumn shoppers benefited from seeing a home’s water issues firsthand.

“We had a ton of rain, and hadn’t in a while,” she says. “If they’d bought in summer, they wouldn’t see where the roof leaks, or the window frames by the front door.” Negotiating over remedies could bring down the price — or at least give you the ability to rescind an offer on a money pit.

In addition to leak awareness, a home’s winterization isn’t yet a crisis. Door drafts won’t freeze down to the bones (yet), but cool air is definitely creeping in. Acquiring a home before winter offers a chance to ward off winter’s chill and maintain the furnace and water heater, seal cracks, and add insulation, all of which cut energy costs.

Taking advantage of homeowner tax deductions on next year’s returns may save money, too. Write-offs may only be a percentage of a full year’s deductions (when you’ve been residing in the home continually), but getting in before the December 31 tax deadline means you’ll be able to write off some of this year’s mortgage interest, along with deductions for points, property taxes and home offices.

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll have the chance to slow down and consider your options in a pleasant shopping environment, rich with the coziness of “home,” from wood-burning fireplaces to early-holiday lights. “You’re out of any summer heat and humidity, but not yet in the crazy winter patterns,” Ialeggio says. “Fall is a lovely time.”

The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent those of PennyMac Loan Services, LLC and its employees.