It’s Open season on Open Houses: 5 Tips for Buying a Home in Spring
May 5, 2019
It’s time to take advantage of the spring buyers’ market. Review these 5 tips to buying a home in spring.
The long nights of unforgiving cold are behind us. Flowers are blooming, and spirits are lifting. It must be spring. Warm weather isn’t the only reason we love spring though, it’s also the start of buying season. You likely see an influx of FOR SALE and OPEN HOUSE signs around town – with Realtors® everywhere having their moment in the sun. But before you hit the open house circuit, take a moment to review these tips for buying a house in spring.
1. Get pre-approved
If you want to get an edge on the influx of springtime buyers, get a pre-approval letter. It verifies the amount you are qualified to borrow. Yes, it requires a bit of financial information to complete – but with so many lenders in the mortgage market, the steps to a pre-approval letter are becoming easier. An underwriter will review your application and give you a conditional approval. Not only does this letter show sellers that you are a serious buyer, it empowers you to shop with confidence while remaining within your budget.
2. Close the laptop and go explore
Technology has made our lives infinitely easier, but also a little complacent. These days, 90% of buyers search listings online. We like to compare real estate internet sites to social media. Sellers are only going to showcase the highlights of their home, in the best light, and from the best angle. When you pull up to the curb, you may get a very different picture. The internet is good way to start your search, but with the competition of springtime buyers, you need to hit the bricks as well. Also, it’s kind of nice to just cruise the neighborhoods – you might find your diamond in the rough.
Insider tip: Use your favorite real estate website as an alert tool instead of a decision maker. This way, you can set up either wide-scoping alerts or specific ones to make house hunting easier.
Keep in mind that sellers can put their home on the market for any price they choose. So, if you find a home you love, ask your Realtor® for a list of comparable sales (tip: say “comps” to sound like a pro). These are homes that have sold within the last three months. An appraiser would use these comps, plus other attributes, to give a home an accurate valuation. Here’s the kicker: When buying a home in spring, you may see a house priced above the list of comps you request. Take a moment and reflect: Can I get a manageable mortgage at this price? Can I go on living without those bay windows and gabled dormers? If you love the house and can afford it, buy it. Your happiness over the next five or ten years will matter a lot more than the extra money you paid.
If you find yourself in a bidding war with an equally prepared buyer, remember to be resilient. The other side is just as worried as you are about the price going up. So, how do you win by as small a margin as possible? Start by attaching an escalation clause to your bid. It raises your bid by a set amount above other competing bidders up to a set maximum.
We’ll break it down. If you attach an escalation clause of $3,000 to your bid of $350,000 and a second offer comes in at $355,000, your bid would get bumped to $358,000 – up to a maximum. It also shows the seller that you have no hesitations, are organized, and confident. All great characteristics of a great buyer-seller relationship.
5. Don’t be scared of a little competition
Springtime sees an inventory boom in houses. Even more, warm weather motivates sellers to maximize their curb appeal – fixing unsightly aesthetics that would pass inspection but would later become your problem to deal with.
We disagree when people say that navigating the spring buying season is overwhelming. You make an offer on a house, then all of a sudden, you've been outbid. Instead of a pity party, dust yourself off and go look for another one.
Resilient buyers are the ones who happily move into their new home at the end of the season.