Prospective homebuyers can breathe sighs of relief as home prices are finally on the way down. In fact, a new report by Realtor.com found that, from July to August, national home prices experienced their most significant month-to-month plunge in data history, dating back to 2016.
So is fall the best time to buy? Or will prices plunge further? And, for those who don’t want to “time the market,” how should they approach homebuying in the current climate? GOBankingRates spoke to real estate and home lending experts to find out.
Will Home Prices Continue Cooling Down This Fall?
Kendall Bonner, a broker/owner with RE/MAX Capital Realty in Lutz, Fla., said that in her local market prices typically cool off in late fall/early winter.
“Historically, during the last 10 years prior to 2020 in Tampa Bay, we’ve consistently seen a slight dip in average sale price from Q3 to Q4,” she said. “Similarly, there is often a price increase from Q1 to Q2. So, for homebuyers, the fourth quarter and the first quarter of the year — which we are quickly approaching — are strategically great times to buy and negotiate for a home.”
Patricia Maguire-Feltch, national sales executive at Chase Home Lending, also believes that fall is primed to be a good time for buyers.
“While the market may seem daunting right now, it may still be the right time for buyers who are well-prepared financially to take on homeownership,” she said. “Recent data indicates that we may be headed toward a buyers’ market as inventory increases and prices show signs of decline.”
Should Buyers Wait for the Market To Cool Down Even Further?
While it’s possible home prices could continue to dip past the fall, Bonner believes it’s best to buy when you’re ready — regardless of the market.
“The best advice I’ve ever heard about buying a home is that you should buy one when you can afford one, so affordability will always be a top factor in determining what you should do this fall,” she said. “If you need a home and can afford it, you should buy it, regardless of rates or economic pressures, as those things are short-term factors while homeownership is a long-term investment.”
Maguire-Feltch notes that, while it’s possible interest rates will decrease after the fall months, it’s also possible they will increase.
“A major concern for buyers currently is rising interest rates,” she said. “There isn’t an exact science to timing the market; and, while interest rates have skyrocketed in recent months, it’s always possible that interest rates could fall. That said, buyers looking to buy this fall should lock in their interest rate now in order to take advantage of the lowest rates possible.”
“Mortgage rates fluctuate every day and, as we have seen so far this year, can move higher quickly,” Maguire-Feltch continued. “If buyers find a house they love and are comfortable with the payment on the home based on today’s rates, we suggest locking in that rate so they have certainty of what payments will look like on the home loan.”
Why Taking a Pause on Homebuying May Be Beneficial
For some prospective buyers, putting plans on hold might be the best decision right now — but this is more based on individual circumstances than market conditions.
“For buyers who are not yet prepared to buy a home in today’s highly competitive market,” Maguire-Feltch said, “this fall may be a great time to get their finances in order so they can act quickly when market conditions change.”
Tips for Buying a Home This Fall
For those who are ready to buy a home this fall, Maguire-Feltch offered the following tips for navigating the process.
Explore Educational Resources
“Buyers planning to buy a home this year, particularly first-time buyers, should start by educating themselves on the home-buying process,” she said. “It’s easy to feel in over your head as a first-time homebuyer because you don’t know what you don’t know. Luckily, there are resources available to help boost your homebuying knowledge, such as how-to guides, webinars and podcasts.”
Meet With a Home Lending Professional and Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
“Before you begin searching for your home, consult a home lending professional,” Maguire-Feltch said. “They can help you get prequalified, navigate the homebuying market and review loan options. You can also use online tools, like an affordability calculator, to determine how much you can afford before starting the homebuying process.”
Take Advantage of Financial Resources
Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for assistance with your home purchase.
“Research homebuyer assistance programs and remember to ask your home lending advisor about available resources,” Maguire-Feltch said. “For example, Chase Home Lending’s Homebuyer Grant offers up to $5,000 that can be used toward a down payment and closing costs. Additional financial assistance for homebuyers may also be available in your state or city.”
Lean on Resources You Can Trust
“It may feel like the housing market is incredibly volatile right now, but you don’t have to go through it alone,” Maguire-Feltch said. “Getting connected early with a qualified lending professional will help ensure you’re prepared for the homebuying process. Beyond professionals, tap into your personal network and find emotional support and knowledge from those who have already gone through the homebuying process. Push yourself to ask questions and remain steadfast in your goals.”
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Should You Buy a Home This Fall? Tips for Navigating the Market