Spring and summer are the high season for buying a home: according to one estimate, about 40 percent of home sales happen from April through July. Spring is a great time to buy a home, because buyers can move in better weather, have months to fix up the house before the cold sets in, and can get kids settled before the school year begins.
However, those advantages also mean that spring can be a competitive time to house-hunt. It’s important to be prepared: Know what you want, what you’re willing to trade off and how much you can spend, and be ready to move quickly when you find the home you want.
Set Your Budget for Buying a Home
First, decide how much house you can afford. Besides monthly mortgage payments, you must have enough money for a down payment, closing costs, moving and the initial expenses of living in the home, including things like new furniture and paint.
The Mortgage Bankers Association recommends that buyers spend no more than 2.5 times their income on a home. Total housing payments should not exceed 28 percent of your gross income, and total debt payments should be less than 36 percent. That means payments on all loans, including your mortgage, student loans, auto loans and credit card debt.
Determine Your Home Wants and Needs
Before setting out on your search for a home, determine your needs. Make a list of what you absolutely must have and what you would be willing to forgo. Research the neighborhoods that interest you. Check out the schools, the local services and the public facilities and speak to people on the street to get a feel for the area.
Choose a Good Real Estate Agent
Local agents offer information you can’t always find online or through property listings. Agents know the prices of recently sold properties, and many have a good handle on what a house is worth. A buyer’s agent will represent your interests, helping you find homes that fit your budget and list of requirements and helping you get the best deal.
Get Mortgage Loan Pre-Approval
Speak with several mortgage lenders, online and off, and choose the best rate and the most appropriate terms for your budget. The low rates that are available may not last indefinitely, so see if you can lock in all or part of the loan. Many lenders offer various plans for your monthly payments. With a mortgage loan pre-approval in hand, you’ll be ready to act quickly when you find a home you want to make an offer on.
Coren, Cina. "Buying a Home in the Spring." Realtor. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.