Down market. Up market. It doesn't matter. Spring showers typically bring spring buyers.
But if you wait for the seasonal thaw you'll join what could be a throng of market savvy buyers who have already scoped the lay of the land and are elbowing for position.
In many communities, an over-supply of homes for sale with reduced prices, foreclosures, auction sales and sellers shopping for short sale buyers, all make it an opportune time not to procrastinate.
Interest rates are at a record low and the affordability index nears a 5-year high. For first-time buyers, rents are skyrocketing and that's an added incentive to buy a home now,
That doesn't mean every home is a Blue Light Special or that you can shop with reckless abandon. It's a better idea to prepare now, become a savvy buyer and beat the spring rush.
- Check your home-buying pulse. Just because there's a convergence of favorable market conditions doesn't mean it's your time to buy.
Base your decision solely on the state of your housing market and you'll overlook why the current market is littered with the former homes of those who borrowed more than they could afford.
Likewise, if you wait for prices to fall more your could miss out. No one knows when the market will hit bottom until it begins a sustained upward turn and you can look back and actually see bottom.
Buy a home because, for you, it's the right thing to do. Buy because it's more affordable than renting, because you plan on staying put until it pays off, buy because it is a good fit for your lifestyle and your personal goals.
- Learn your local market. While you certainly need to be up on the most recent housing news, get news from your local media outlets, your friendly neighborhood real estate agents and data providers that regularly generate information about your community.
- Get some basic training. Even if you've purchased before, bone up now. Regulations, local practices and market conditions change. Use well-established, frequently-updated information sources on and off line. Attend real estate industry-sponsored seminars, workshops, counseling sessions and post-secondary level realty classes.
- Examine your credit. Pull your credit report and check your credit score before your lender does. You need to make sure both are where they need to be to land you a home loan.
- Shop with money in your pocket. Get a mortgage approved before you begin to shop for a home. You need to know how much you can afford and how much home you can buy so you can negotiate from a position of strength. Shop around for the best mortgage possible.
- Buy like a savvy investor. Buy low now, sell high later. Shop in the least expensive neighborhood in the best community or the least expensive city in the region. Drill down to buy the least expensive home on the best block or the cheapest home in a neighborhood in transition.