Spring is a great time to buy and sell real estate because everybody else thinks it’s a great time to buy and sell real estate! Warmer weather encourages people to go outside more often and tour more homes, and the impending promise of summer and vacation time tends to make sellers a little friendlier with their negotiation tactics. Spring also makes people crave change, and what better way to shake up your life than by buying or selling a home?
If you have kids, another benefit to buying in spring is the impending summer vacation. You can avoid conflicts with school and sports by moving your family in June or July, and you’re less likely to face emotional problems due to the move if your kids are already in a better mood from the warmer weather and lack of homework.
More importantly, the spring fever mentality guarantees that the real estate market is usually flooded with inventory from April to June—which means you’re more likely to find your dream home at a decent price! Of course, this doesn’t mean the right house is just going to fall into your lap: more activity in the real estate sector also means more competition, so you’re going to need to put in some work if you want an edge over other potential buyers.
1. Get Mortgage Ready
If you’re worried about how your credit score might affect your ability to buy a home, there are a few things you can do before April to get mortgage ready. Pull your credit reports and make sure all of the information on them is accurate and up-to-date; a low score could be due to mistaken or stolen identity. Use your tax refunds to settle any standing debt to reduce your debt-to-income ratio and start researching what kind of mortgages are available to you depending on your score.
Unfortunately, building credit is a years-long process, so many of the tried-and-true methods of credit building won’t be able to help you secure a mortgage, especially if you have a two-to-three month window and you’re also busy looking for a house.
The best thing to do is to hire a credit specialist like Prime Credit Advisors: not only will they be better able to find and dispute negative line items on your credit reports, they can do it faster. Time is of the essence when you’re buying a home in spring, and you’ll already be very busy researching homes, loans, and real estate agents. Letting a credit specialist with industry knowledge and bureau connections handle your credit score is the fastest and most reliable way to ensure you’ll be mortgage ready in time for the spring season. You’re not a real estate agent or a credit specialist, so don’t trust yourself to do their jobs if you want to move into your new house by summer!
2. Location, location, location!
Once you have your credit score more-or-less finalized, you should start looking for a specific location where you’d like to buy. Research an area’s public facilities, tax rates, school options (if you have or plan on having kids), and safety statistics. Is it near your work? How long is the commute? Are there things to do on the weekends? Can you walk your dog safely in the park? If you are buying a house, you should already be prepared to settle down in this area for a while, so make sure it’s the kind of location you can see yourself being happy in ten, fifteen, or twenty years down the road.
3. Stay Local
Once you’ve settled on a location, start looking into local real estate agents as they’ll have better knowledge of what each house in the area has to offer, and they’ll have better rapport with local sellers. Spring is a competitive season for buyers, so having someone with inside knowledge of local market conditions will give you a distinct advantage with listing agents and during price negotiation.
Use the same strategy when looking for a lender. Local lenders such as banks and mortgage brokers will improve your competitive advantage when wooing sellers with multiple offers. A preapproval letter from local institutions is more likely to get preference over an out-of-area or online lender, as it seems more trustworthy and familiar to sellers.
4. Get Focused!
If you really want to buy that new house this spring, the best thing to do is get started right away and prioritize the time you have left. Trying to focus on fixing your credit report and finding a house and finding a lender or an agent while the market is still hot all at once will overwhelm you.
Hiring a credit specialist, narrowing your choices down to a single location, and getting to know local agents and lenders will speed up the process without creating adverse risks. Better focus means better decision-making and, ultimately, a better house!