A recent real estate survey reported that 27 percent of the homebuyers during the fall season are first-time homebuyers. Although spring is traditionally the peak season for real estate activity, this year’s buyer’s market should lead to a healthy spike in real estate activity this fall.
“For a prospective new homeowner, this fall’s market is shaping up to be an opportunity to capitalize on a great blend of low rates, consistently low home prices, and a recovering economy,” notes John L. Heithaus, CMO of Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (MRIS), one of the largest MLS’s in the country. “First-time homebuyer or not, all potential buyers can benefit from good information – even in a buyer’s market – as they gear up to begin bidding on real estate.”
To prepare potential homebuyers for a busy fall market, MRIS, has compiled the following tips to reinforce how important it is to be prepared before entering the market.
1. Get connected: Most first-time buyers think that they understand their local market by reading daily headlines. While keeping abreast of market headlines is always a good idea, it’s important to remember that real estate fluctuates from month-to-month and from one place to the next. If you are buying a home and not closely connected to the neighborhood, get connected with a knowledgeable real estate professional that is. Make an appointment with a local agent and ask them for recommendations on the best ways to stay tuned into the local market, such as through local real estate blogs.
2. Locate open houses: The real estate market will always be more competitive during peak seasons, but an advantage of the fall is that you will often encounter more open houses in an area as a result of cooler, more comfortable temperatures. So visit your local MLS website or contact an agent for the best sites to find out where the open houses are in your area.
3. Catch a break: The 27 percent of potential first-time homebuyers who are on the fence about whether to buy can be persuaded by year-end tax breaks – including deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes – they may be eligible for if they purchase a home and close their loan by the end of the year.
4. Get your credit in order: By choosing to buy a new home in the fall instead of the spring, homebuyers benefit from a few additional months to ensure that their credit history, and score are in order. Buyers will need a FICO score of 720 or higher to get the best mortgage rates available. Each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once per year. To order, visit annualcreditreport.com.
5. Make time to save: Lending institutions are still tightening their belts, and holding out to buy during the fall season instead of the spring allows a few more months to save. We suggest saving enough money for six months of mortgage payments, as well as a minimum of 3.5 percent of the purchase price to cover the down payment and closing costs. First-time homebuyers should also be prepared for less visible expenses, such as moving costs and home repairs, when saving for a home.
John L. Heithaus is the Chief Marketing Officer at MRIS and has over 30 years of experience in the real estate industry, focusing his career on relocation, housing data, and real estate market trends.
For more information, visit www.mris.com.