Buying Your First House in Spring
Now that the Holidays have passed, and springtime fever begins to influence the feelings of homebuyers, the hope of a new and varied inventory of homes becomes almost palatable to the excited and vulnerable first time home buyers. The Real Estate marketplace has a tendency to stagnate in the fall into winter, and certainly during the later parts of December, as the Holidays become the prime focus of most individuals. However, as January ebbs, and the springtime looms ahead, all the Real Estate Agents start to build their resumes of available homes and predict a wonderful springtime market. Optimism is stroked by the warmth of the sun and the promise of better deals and more interesting properties.
I have several close acquaintances, as well as family members, that will be seduced by this springtime market and will feel the adrenalin created by the positive vibe, that springtime brings, regarding the selection of a home and the promise of finding that perfect residence. As part of this website, we have discussed various methods of evaluating a home, ensuring that the basement is dry, the roof intact, etc. There are webpages within this site, that identify the various creative ideas, that sellers can use to improve the presentation of their home to the buying public, and we have also touched on various issues or observations that homebuyers should be aware of.
This webpage is specifically focused on the springtime market as well as the first time, younger buyers. There could be insight within these pages that will offer new or creative thinking opportunities to educated buyers, or even the most experienced real estate traders. Who knows, sometimes a thought process, or idea is new to even the most educated, however, the emphasis will be on the younger home buyers, whom may not have all the answers.
This webpage does not address the individual construction characteristics that homebuyers should be considering. These specific details and observations, are available on other webpages within this website. Specifically refer to the webpage entitled “ What should we look for when purchasing our first home? “ This webpage will identify specific construction elements that you should be concerned about and be aware of. There are duplications within these two webpages, I apologize for that, however if both pages are read, I believe you will be informed of most of the issues and concerns relative to purchasing your home.
As my format has been established in many of our webpages, I will try to organize the comments and observations in separate specific topics.
- Location / I almost skipped this specific thought, due to the repeated identification within this webpage of location, as a primary characteristic, that must influence your home buying selection. Please understand that location MUST influence your home buying decision. The best house in the worst place is simply the worst house! That is it! I am sorry to stress this deduction as strongly as I have within this website, however it is that important! Location is basically everything, when it comes to real estate. All home construction and design, no matter what the negative issues, can be modified, rebuilt, torn down, added to, etc. The location of the property cannot be changed.
There will be several individuals that will indicate to you, that the possibility of an area improving, and therefore the ability to steal a great house in a bad area, should be considered. NO! If you are a young couple or an inexperienced home buyer, all of your energy is being focused on, what you consider, one of the most important decisions in your life. To gamble your future on the selection of a spectacular home in a bad area is much too fragile and unpredictable. I have personally witnessed the political and social commentary that provides the foundation to the hopeful awakening of a bad area. I will not offer the specific examples of my experiences, however, there have been very few of these gambles, that I have seen materialize.
Politicians love to think it and promote it, but do they live there, I doubt it!
Location is the MOST important aspect of your home selection, and you must focus on where the home is, as well as what the surrounding neighborhood identifies and represents. This is extremely important and cannot be overemphasized!
- Home access / The access to your home, is almost as important as the location of the property. What I mean by access, is the roadway appeal, the driveway curb-cut, the length of the drive, the grade of the driveway and the location of the drive on the roadway. Issues, such as “line of sight”, are an important consideration when selecting a home. How many times will you, as well as your family, enter the driveway and exit? If the driveway presents a safety hazard due to the grade of the road, the sight lines for oncoming traffic, or even the amount of traffic itself, these elements must be considered. The best home in the best location, if located on a curve with heavy fast moving traffic is a bad decision. As with the location of the home, the access cannot be easily changed. In addition to the safety factor, you must think about the repeated and basically casual entering and exiting of the driveway, as you become comfortable with repeated uses of the drive. When do the accidents occur? They occur when the ironworker has walked the steel for years, and its danger is lost in repeated processes. Home access is as important as the location of the property, it is not easily changed, and you will need to live with your decision, for the rest of your time in the home.
- Local schools / Although there will be many that will argue the fact, that private schools are always an option, I am considering the young individuals that have a budget and expect to build a family in the new home they have selected. Yes, there are always other options, however, you will be paying property taxes, and you will be contributing to the local school systems. It is always more economical to use these systems that you are already paying for. The location of your property, in most cases will relate to the type of education system available. In most areas of the country, the good location will have as a common characteristic, a good school system to add to the good location. Obviously the single individual, the middle age couple, or any combination of home buyers that do not have any reason for a school system, will not consider the quality of the local schools as important. My only comment regarding this attitude, is that what happens when you place the home on the market? Are you limiting the positive characteristics of the home that you are trying to sell, due to the lack of a good school system? It is my opinion, that unless there are special considerations and circumstances, the school system should always be a consideration.
- Access to activities / What I mean by this characteristic, is the ability to access various activities of interest and pleasure. These activities can be local playgrounds, restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, walking trails, grocery stores, waterfront parks, beer pubs, local shopping, or whatever activities that may interest you, as the home buyer. I personally have experience living in extremely remote areas as well as areas that allow access to multiple activities. Although it is strictly my opinion, the ability to access activities, far outweighs the beauty of remote locations. Of course, once again, I will be criticized by the home buyers that identify with suburbia, and the privacy and quietness of a remote location. I can understand this; I had this attitude in my youth, granted I had grown up in a private and remote location. I am now exposed to homes that allow walking access to activities. This is a real and important consideration for a family or even an active couple of individual. Urban living has become popular, and the ability to walk to your local coffee shop or playground, are important aspects of where you want your home to be located. Once again, as I have stressed, the resale of the home must be considered. It is my opinion that access to activities is becoming more important, and this characteristic will offer a very positive selling point to your property in the future.
- Property size / The actual size of your property is an important consideration, due to the fact that it cannot be changed. Like the location and the access to the home, this characteristic to your home is not something that can be modified or renovated. Unless there is property immediately adjacent to the home that is open and purchasable, then the size of the lot is a given and a constant. You buy the home; the lot size is what it is.
There are various considerations when deciding if the size of the property is an important factor in purchasing the property. If the property size does not allow the homeowner to garden, entertain, set up play areas for the children, etc. and you will never entertain any of these activities, why are you considering the lot size as a determining characteristic in the purchase? You should not! If you are a homeowner that wants open space for a purpose, such as gardening and entertaining, then this characteristic is important. The important aspect of this consideration, is that it cannot be altered once the deal is made.
- Onsite storage / The ability to store a boat, a second or third car, a motor home, are all considerations that effect the overall decision to purchase a certain piece of property. If you have a large boat that you are paying storage on, the ability to store the boat on your property will save you money as well as reduce the overall effort, when using the boat. This type of onsite storage issue and concern should be considered when purchasing a home.
Prior to making this characteristic of a home a priority, make sure that the local ordinances allow, whatever type of storage considerations you are basing your purchase of the home on. If the ability to store items such as boats, cars, trailers, etc. is an important consideration, the allowance to perform this storage must be identified, prior to making this an important decision factor.
- Ability to renovate or add on / Another consideration that cannot be altered, once the home has been purchased, is the consideration of an expansion or remodeling plan. It is important that the individual property set- backs, as well as the zoning laws, allow the planned expansion or renovation of the property, if this is in the future plans of the property. This is extremely important if the ability to perform this work is the primary reason for the homes purchase. The local zoning and building departments must be questioned in regards to any type of planned additions or renovations. You may find that the local regulations prohibit any expansion due to property size limits or other issues. This must be found out, prior to committing on a property.
- Exact property lines / Like the location, the homes access, or the ability to renovate and enlarge the home, the exact property lines MUST be well established and identified. I have had personal experience, where the presumed property lines where NOT the formal property lines. This occurred when I purchased our first piece of land for a new home. The land, like many properties in New England was rimmed by stonewalls. The presumption was that the stone-walls ringed the property and established the property lines. Wrong! The actual front stonewall was not on our property, and was actually so far away from the presumed property line, that it allowed the construction of a home directly in our front yard. This type of mistake was an important aspect of our future ability to sell the home. Make sure your property lines are clear and well established. Do not assume where they are!
- Location of the home on the property / The location of the property, in relationship to the road, the overall site grades, adjacent waterways or rock outcroppings, should all be important considerations when deciding upon your home. I have always instructed individuals that the high side of the road is better than the low side. My rationale is that water is an important building consideration, and that if the home is on the high side of the road, and on the higher ground, the water will run away from the home. In addition, the placement of a home on the higher ground allows easier access into the home, easier use of the surrounding property and a general overall feeling of dominance. The same home located on a higher piece of property as opposed to a lower piece will appear more dominant, larger and more elegant.
- Living area accessibility / The ability to access all the living areas of the home, in an easy manner, is important to the overall use of all of your homes available square footage. If the home is located on a hillside and allows an exterior access to the lower level of the home, this entire level becomes immediately usable square footage. A finished basement is a wonderful element of the home, especially if the lower levels can be accessed from the exterior of the home. A walkout basement is a very positive aspect of the home as well as positive selling characteristic.
For additional specific information I refer to the webpage “What should we look for when purchasing our first home” as referenced at the beginning of this particular webpage. There are a few more important aspects of specifically springtime, real estate hunting, which should be considered and processed, prior to anyone hitting the streets in optimistic joy, because the springtime market is upon you.
- The springtime is an opportunity for renewed hope and optimism for everything, not only real estate. What I infer by this statement, is that the springtime provides an easy and marketable presumption of success and positive energy, which was lost in the market in the fall and winter that has just passed. Remember this when you are hitting the trail again, seeking that perfect home. Do not allow the feelings of springtime determine or compromise your overall judgement regarding a property.
- In most markets, the same properties that did not sell in the fall and the winter will simply be back on the market in the spring. This is simply a fact of the real estate market. Homes are taken off the listings, to re-establish their position on all the online real estate websites. Instead of the listing indicating, been on the market for 120 days, by removing the listing from the market, the listing can be identified as either new to the market, or simply on for a lesser amount of time. It was simply taken off the market and placed on again.
- In most markets, the real estate agents simply get fired and new ones are hired. Individuals that are trying to sell their homes will only sign the home up to a specific real estate agent for a period time. During this time frame, if the house does not sell; the seller may decide to simply hire another real estate broker to represent their home. If and when this occurs, the signs will change, the open houses will resume and the listing will look different.
Same home, different representation
- There will be homes on the market, in the springtime, that have not been on the market prior. Most real estate brokers will try to focus the market for a new home, on their listing during the active springtime market. They will not recommend that the home be placed on the market, during the holidays, but in the springtime. If the agent is signed up for a specific period of time ,then their logical recommendation would be during the active real estate season. Certainly real estate agents would not want to waste their limited time, during a low market on a limited time contract. Expect a very aggressive marketplace as well as real estate agent during the springtime market.
Remember; make hay while the sun shines!
- In most cases, the real estate broker receives a commission that is a percentage of the price of the home at the point of sale. This is the typical real estate contract, I am sure that there will be several real estate brokers, that will anxiously wait for the opportunity to criticize this comment, and argue the establishment on a commission based on price. However, in most cases, this is the method of payment to the selling realtor. Practical thinking will clearly identify the fact, that time verses fee, is the factor identifying the actual payment per hour, per day, etc. Therefore based upon this evaluation, if the sale requires 6 months of time by the realtor, the commission does not change. If the sale requires one week, the commission doesn’t change. Therefore it is in the best interest of the realtor, in most cases, to sell the property as soon as possible. In addition, the commission, being based on a percentage of the selling value, is most readily lost, by losing time on the sale, and not the actual value of the sale. This is why, in most cases, the real estate agent will try to make the deal, as fast as possible, at a price that completes the sale and does not necessarily compensate the seller, for the highest possible value of the home. I can sense the real estate agents calling for my rejection and execution, for this comment, however, it is true. So in regard to the springtime market, the real estate agents will be more attentive to you, the buyer. The chance of driving the price lower is better, and the opportunity to strike a very competitive deal is in your favor, due to the fact that the real estate agents need to strike when the iron is hot. If the home fails to sell in the springs hot market, it slides into the doldrums of the summer months and then into the limbo of the fall.
Not good for anyone attempting to make a living by selling homes, namely the real estate agents.
In summary, the springtime real estate market is probably the best time to purchase a home. I don’t believe that in today’s marketplace the ability to secure a better deal, timing wise, is any better in the fall or winter doldrums than in the springtime.
The iron is hot, so it is time to strike for the realtors, imploring the seller to drop the price and use the springtime market to sell, convincing the sellers that this is the best opportunity to sell their home. If the sellers are convinced that this is the market, and it will only get worse as time moves to summer and fall, now is the time for the buyers to low ball the real estate market and get the best value possible.
Remember, that whatever characteristics that attracted you to place an offer on a home, will be the same characteristics that will attract other buyers when you are selling the home. People do not change, location doesn’t change for the most part, and what was positive for you, will be positive for any future buyers, but more importantly, what is negative about the home, in your opinion, will remain negative when you place the home for sale.
Good luck and find a home, but remember, you will want to sell it eventually!