When Should You Buy a House?

by Lauren Caggiano

So, you’re thinking of buying a house? Congrats! Just like getting married, you want to enter into the process informed and confident in your decision making. So, when exactly is the best time to buy a home? The short answer: it depends. Here’s a look at a few of the factors that enter the equation:

 Seasonality

One thing is for certain: the best time to buy a house will vary according to the market, but there are a few common themes to keep in mind. Winter can be an attractive time to make the move. Usually, there’s less inventory, which means less competition at the same time. Also, prices tend to be lower as the year draws to a close. However, moving in the winter can be brutal, especially in the Midwest.

Spring is the prime home-buying season, which means you may find yourself in a bidding war. This is also a good time to buy if you have children because you can get them acclimated to their new life neighborhood or city before school resumes in the fall. Moving in the spring usually isn’t too bad weather-wise, unless it rains. The summer months are popular for the same reasons, plus you might be able to find some deals. Some nervous sellers might be looking to close in time for the new school year for the same motivations buyers might have. The fall market is usually quieter — inventory may be diminished after the hot summer buying season. However, prices may be discounted because, quite often, sellers want the deal off their books before the new year.

Finances

Seasonality may be one factor to keep in mind, but it’s a moot point if you’re not financially ready to enter into such a commitment. You’ll need to take into account your creditworthiness, credit score, debt-to-income ratio, ability to make a down payment, closing costs, etc. Before you can think about buying the home of your dreams, you need to be sure you’re in the right position to act. You don’t want to buy a home only to feel spread thin and second-guess yourself when the time comes to sign on the dotted line. A financial planner and loan officer can help you determine whether you’re in the right place and help you avoid newbie mistakes. If it’s not the right time, they can offer suggestions on how to work towards that goal.

Maturity

Owning a home comes with maintenance. Are you up to the task of fixing a leaky faucet? How about landscaping? Power washing? You’re either going to have to down it yourself, enlist the help of friends and family, or hire out the work. Either way, a house is more than just four walls. It comes with upkeep, and some people aren’t inclined to enter into such a life event in their 20s when they’re focused on making money and paying down debt. It is a personal matter, and no one should pressure you to act before you’re ready. On the other hand, as some people will tell you, there’s no perfect time for any major decision. Sometimes you have to trust your gut!

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