For Buyers, Fall May Be The Best Time

A slower fall season in home buying, traditionally the last two weeks or so of August, brought on by vacations and back-to-school activities, may coax uncommitted buyers to get off the fence, but the pace of sales will pick up once schools are back in session. There may be enticing mortgage rates available to home buyers this fall. Mortgage rates remain under 4 percent, certainly a positive for home loan borrowers. Last week the 30-year fixed rate averaged 3.78 percent, holding steady at this year’s low, as reported by Freddie Mac.

Fall can be the best time to buy, studies have shown. A study conducted by RealtyTrac in 2015 found that October was the best month for home buyers. Purchasers in October paid 2.6 percent below the estimated market value at the time for their home, according to the analysis. Oct. 8 was found to have the best day for bargains too, with an average of 10.8 percent below estimated market value, according to the study.

In August, locally, we experienced a more aggressive market than anticipated in the greater Seattle metro area. Regional pending sales for last month totaled 11, 867 transactions, barely above the number of new listings (11,781) added during August. At month end there were 15,987 total active listings in the MLS database, a drawdown of 12.8 percent from a year ago.

The next two months will be the best opportunity for selection and affordability for buyers to purchase a home. September and October will experience a new listing inventory drop by about 20 percent from the summer months. Starting in November, the number of new listings will traditionally drop by another 30 percent during the winter. Smart buyers will use the slightly longer market exposure to their advantage, giving them time for reasonable contingencies.

Here are a few tips for Sellers with a home on the market in the fall (with its longer sales cycles and reduced active buyers):

1. Why Worry About Curb Appeal? Summer is Gone.

Fall has officially stormed into our region, but it’s no excuse to stop giving the exterior of your home the attention it needs to maintain curb appeal. Make sure stairs, walkways, and gutters are without leaves and debris, and make sure your lawn is mowed. Keep your trees smartly trimmed to avoid the unkempt appearance windblown branches can make when strewn about your yard.

2. Buyers Spend Greater Time Indoors, So Focus on Your Interior Spaces

Just because buyers are spending more time indoors does not mean they won’t stop going outdoors. A segment of potential buyers will always consider the outdoor activities aspect of your home. Focus on seasonal home décor near the holidays to attract possible buyers by making your house feel more like a home.

3. The Weather is Growing Colder, So Keep Your Home Comfortable

Dropping temperatures are no reason your home décor should give one the feeling of colder weather. Consider a new coat of paint in a warmer shade, and turn the thermostat up a few degrees to ensure the comfort of any potential buyers when they visit the home. You need not make any major changes to your home’s configuration, a few cozy pillows and a throw rug or two can go a long way in stimulating a cozy feeling around your home décor for the cooler months.

4. Pricing Your Home Right is Critical in the Fall

Pricing your home incorrectly is probably the worst mistake you can make when selling your home in autumn. You may be thinking a jacked-up price is an easy route to increased profits on the sale, but the market will soon make it apparent: overpriced homes do not sell. Plus, the damage of overpricing your home in the initial listing is not easily repaired by simply dropping the listing price. Buyers presume that something must be wrong with a home when it stays on market for months on end, or when it has had one or more drastic price reductions. Thus buyers will bypass such properties, or make an offer below the new reduced listing price. A professional real estate broker can help you avoid overpricing your home in the fall.

5. Once It’s Sold, You’re Done

The inspections are done, all the myriad documents have been signed, so all you need do is pack your stuff and move. Well, not exactly. With the oncoming fall holidays, everyone is busy with something. Thus you may be challenged in finding time to pack and clean, in searching for a firm to help you move, and even in finding friends and family members with the time and schedule to help you. To avoid these pitfalls, make a moving plan well ahead of the moving date, and share your plan early with those you anticipate can help you. Eliminating as much stress as possible from your big move will make a big difference when you ease into the first few days in your new home.

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