Summer is the priciest time to buy a home, but cost isn’t the only challenge in 2020. An uncertain economy and social distancing measures, both the result of the pandemic, have upended homebuying plans for some and changed the process for everyone.
Despite the initial shock of COVID-19, related economic fallout and general uncertainty, demand for homes is surging again. And home prices are climbing. Together, these factors necessitate some skillful navigation by buyers. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Know your market. Home prices jump 9%, on average, from January to June, and much higher in some areas of the country, according to a new NerdWallet analysis. While the most expensive time to buy is most often June or July, inventory is generally higher then too.
Housing market behavior is highly localized, so get to know the one where you are hoping to buy. A local real estate agent can help you understand how prices and demand fluctuate where you’re shopping, as well as better prepare you for competition among other buyers, price negotiation with sellers and the supply of homes.
Get preapproved. Going into the process with a lender’s preapproval could make your offer stand out above the rest. Preapproval also gives you the opportunity to compare lender offers. Shopping mortgage rates can save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan.
Prepare to be flexible. Depending on where you are home shopping, you may have to tour occupied homes via video, not be present during the home inspection and agree to additional clauses designed to protect the transaction in these unique times. Go into the process expecting these (and possibly other) changes and you are less likely to be rattled by them during an already stressful time.
Determine where you will compromise. Demand for homes far outpaces the supply, so you will have to act quickly when you find a home you like. Whether you are thinking of your starter home or forever home, go into the process knowing what you are willing to compromise on. Other buyers will be lining up too. Hem and haw over whether you can live without a front porch or garage and you will likely miss your chance to get an offer in.
Consider postponing. If you have been planning to buy in 2020, considering a postponement can be disappointing. But, depending on where you are shopping, waiting could bring lower prices, less competition and more financial security than these uncertain times. The flip side: Inventory ticks down in the fall, so you may have fewer homes to choose from.
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