The best time to buy a home, of course, is when you easily find your dream home at the right price, and have the purchase price in cash -- or a mortgage approval at the lowest interest rate in 50 years. Since the likelihood of all these variables aligning in your favor is slim, use them as cues to shop -- perhaps on a lovely fall day.
Check the listings, and you’ll find that the popular season to list homes is spring, when landscaping looks its best and browsers have five or six months before the cold winds of winter shorten buyers' attention spans. Also, many buyers want to settle in well before school starts in the fall.
Come fall, folks who’ve had their homes listed since early in the year consider changing listing agents, renewing contracts and, most importantly, adjusting prices. Sellers might also consider fall shoppers more motivated, leading to more generous counteroffers. Keep an eye out for sellers who give in to a real estate agent’s suggestion to lower their price after lots of showings but no offers -- there may be bargains to be had as school starts and autumn leaves fall.
Fall weather lacks summer’s heat and, aside from a few rainy days, offers crisp weather with unobstructed views as leaves fall from deciduous trees. During those few rainy stretches, buyers have a good chance to note leaky roofs and slow-to-drain patios that will eventually need work, despite their beauty during the dry warmth of summer. Fall is also a prime time to see how much work is involved in cleaning out that garden or raking leaves shed by that ancient oak.
Second Season Logistics
In addition to the advantage of having less competition from other house hunters, mortgage bankers are getting their second wind and looking for new customers after school starts, making the line to the loan committee for pre-approvals shorter. Houses found during fall can close just before or immediately following the holidays, allowing both seller and buyer a break to enjoy their last holiday in the “old” house. As for school schedules, second semesters start after the holidays.
An avid perennial gardener and old house owner, Laura Reynolds has had careers in teaching and juvenile justice. A retired municipal judgem Reynolds holds a degree in communications from Northern Illinois University. Her six children and stepchildren served as subjects of editorials during her tenure as a local newspaper editor.