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Spring is usually the hottest market for home buying. Here, experts share their tips for making the most of home shopping, buying, and selling in springtime.
Spring is the busiest time of year for both home buyers and sellers. Once that long winter finally breaks, families start house hunting, visiting properties that have finally thawed after months of inclement weather. Once you’re on the hunt for the perfect home, there are a few things to keep in mind during this time of year.
“Spring has always been the busiest time of year,” says Sherri Hines, an associate broker at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes. “Many families have a desire to make changes coinciding with the school year, and summer is often filled with vacation and travel and kid activities. Of course, it is also just more fun to be out looking at houses with green grass, warmer temps, flowers blooming, and longer days.”
We spoke with experts for their tips for home buyers and sellers during this busy time of year for the housing market.
Prepare for a Competitive Market
Because spring is the most popular time of year for buying and selling homes, you should prepare to enter into a highly competitive market this time of year.
“The biggest distinguishing factor the last few years about the spring market is the intense competition,” Hines says. “We are already experiencing an increase in multiple offers, and buyers are already waiving inspections and appraisals in an effort to ‘win.’ The competition had cooled a bit last fall through the winter, but all signs point to potentially even more fierce competition than last spring.”
Because the market will be flooded with fellow buyers, Hines suggests you plan to see homes soon after they hit the market. This way you can tour a property you’re interested in and be prepared to make a competitive offer early—hopefully before too many other prospective buyers have seen it. Hines says that means being prepared to make split decisions, too.
“The low inventory the last few years has lowered the average days on market,” she says. “Homes that aren’t sold within 7 to 10 days are either overpriced or have some unaddressed issue. As the competition increases moving deeper into the spring market, homes are selling within hours sometimes.”
That might mean you’ll have to jump in with an offer right away, or it might mean a longer house-hunting period, as properties are quickly purchased around you.
“Home searches can vary from a few days to many months,” Hines says. “There are so many factors, depending on price range, location, competition, inventory.”
Be prepared for a long journey should you find that properties in your area are selling quickly, but don’t push off your hunt just because spring is a busy time of year. With the way the housing market has gone in recent years, it’s not a sure bet that competition will dry up once the seasons change.
“I would not advise buyers to wait for things to change. I’ve had clients make that choice and regret it,” Hines says. “I personally don’t see our market changing much anytime soon.”
Inspect the Property
If the idea of pouncing on a property quickly gives you pause, keep in mind that you can still make an offer and have an inspection done before the deal goes through.
David Steckel, home expert at home care platform Thumbtack, says buyers should pay special attention to the outside of a home, where water problems can be apparent this time of year.
“It’s important to thoroughly inspect a property before making a purchase,” Steckel says. “Have a professional inspect the home before purchasing and be sure to look out for water damage, roof damage, drainage problems, foundation issues, and pest damage. These are important to catch early on, as these repairs can be costly and affect the condition of your home over time.”
Of course, most of these potential problems should come up in a professional home inspection. And while certain aspects of the property might be more apparent or visible in the spring vs. winter season, for example, you’ll want to make sure whomever you hire is doing a thorough inspection regardless of the time of year.
“While there may be snow on a roof during the inspection, your agent should always be advocating for a final roof inspection with the appropriate repercussions built in should roof damage become apparent, even if it’s after the traditional due diligence/inspection period,” says Christopher Stjernholm, chief of staff at Trelora Real Estate. “Certified home inspectors will be there to provide expertise on what you should be looking for regardless of the season.”
How to Prepare to Sell
If you’re selling your home in the springtime, Steckel suggests sprucing up your exterior spaces. Potential buyers will be thinking of hosting summer cookouts and pool parties this time of year—call out the great outdoor features of your home to help your listing shine. If your outdoor space is lackluster, do what you can to spruce it up and highlight its potential.
“Homeowners can start by boosting their curb appeal, like painting the exterior of their homes, freshening up their landscaping, and completing outdoor repairs to their porch and deck, garage door, siding, and fence,” he says.
As you stage your home, Steckel suggests deep-cleaning your grill and porch furniture so everything looks sharp.
“Addressing any necessary repairs before listing your home for sale will pay. Be sure to fix leaky faucets, replace broken windows, and repair any damaged flooring or walls,” he says.
Zillow and Thumbtack released a report last year detailing the spring projects that yield the best return for sellers, if you’re having trouble prioritizing where to begin.
Your real estate agent will also spend time getting to know your property so they can market it appropriately, says Scott Harris of Brown Harris Stevens.
“It helps create avatars of who we expect the target buyers to be,” he explains. “This isn’t about space or the latest kitchen appliances, but how you send messaging that explains the property is interesting to the kinds of buyers you want to attract.”
Harris says if you’re ready to sell, don’t delay. A spring market might be hotter than a winter market, but that shouldn’t affect your plans to move.
“There’s always a reason to wait. I usually say that you can either have reasons or results,” he says. “You lose 100% of the games you sit out.”
Why You Might Want to Skip the Spring Market
Not ready to buy or sell in time for this spring season? Don’t stress.
Brandon Snow, executive director at Ally Home, says that while there might be a ton of inventory on the market each spring, that doesn’t mean you’re missing out on the best time of year to buy or sell.
“While spring home buying has its benefits, buying a home during the fall and winter months can have a flurry of advantages—including less competition and faster closing time,” he says.
Snow says the best time to buy is often September or October.
“That’s when inventory is still relatively high, but prices are moderating, especially for starter homes,” he says. “For sellers, their homes might’ve been on the market all summer with no luck, and they may be antsy to make a deal.”
And once fall ends, inventory might drop, but sellers will become more and more eager to make a deal.
“You’ll likely have a smaller crop of houses to choose from, but sellers could be more motivated to make a move for end-of-year tax-break reasons,” Snow says.
However, stats show that you’ll likely pay more for a home in the future if you wait.
“Prices have grown (year over year) for the better part of the last 10 years,” says Stjernholm. “Oftentimes I see buyers say they’re going to wait longer to buy, but the result over the last decade has been they only end up paying an even higher price than when they first started looking.”