It seems like a new “For Sale” sign pops up every 10 minutes during the hot summer months in Wilmington. The market was especially on fire this particular summer. Homes seemed to sell almost instantly - blink, and they were gone!
As the weather cools down and the tourists scatter away from our beloved beach town, real estate agents are gearing up for those off-season months. Buyers need to prepare properly, too. While the real estate market slows down, it never stops completely.
Are you looking to buy a house during the off-season? Here are a few tips for finding your dream home during the quieter months.
Check your financial health
Buying a house is a huge financial responsibility. It is very important to check your financial status prior to beginning the process. We encourage you to not step into the journey if it seems like your job might be a temporary situation. We also highly encourage you to consult with a mortgage lender to check your credit and see what types of homes you might quality for. A sense of financial security will take away the unnecessary stress that can creep up during the home-buying process.
Take advantage of the agent’s flexible schedule
It can seem like there are fewer options for agents, lenders, appraisers, inspectors, and so on, during the busy months of the summer. As the market slows down, real estate agents are able to take a deep breath, allowing you to take advantage of their more open calendars during the off-season.
Don’t be afraid to ask extra questions and schedule appointments. Agents are happy to serve their clients, so be sure to pick up the phone to call your agent of choice and begin scheduling those showings. Network Real Estate agents are ready and waiting for your call year-round.
Do your homework
When considering the next spot to plant your roots, make sure you do your homework and enter into the adventure well-prepared. A great place to start is the internet. Look online for the current inventory available. There are so many good online resources for real estate these days, so you might be able to narrow down your search before even hitting the road. After all, you would never go into a store to buy a shirt if you already knew it didn’t fit, right? The same goes with buying a house.
Take the pressure off
During the summer, it can seem like you find the house of your dreams on Zillow, hit refresh on your browser and it’s already under contract. Breathe! The summer is over, which means there is less competition for that house of your dreams. Take advantage of this by spending more time finding the perfect home, negotiating to your desired price level and making the best offer.
Check expired listings
As shocking as this might sound, some houses that are listed during the summer actually do not sell. Many sellers will end up taking their home off the market during the off-season with the idea of relisting the following year.
That being said - have your agent contact the owners of those expired listings to inquire about the possibility of them relisting sooner than expected. Your dream home might not necessarily have a sign in front of it, but that does not mean that it can’t be yours.
Be more aggressive
Once the school year starts, the market slows down and home-buying competition decreases, you have a great opportunity to be even more aggressive during your own home-buying process. Fewer bidding wars leave more space for you to get what you’d like out of the sale. Utilize your agent’s negotiating skills and challenge those list prices to your liking.
Once you put that perfect house under contract, the next step is to schedule the necessary inspections. Sometimes your buyer’s eye cannot see any deficiencies below the surface. Once an inspection report is given to you, take the time to double-check everything. Assess what repairs will need to take place prior to closing.
The winter months have a tendency to bring out issues that might not be found during the summer, such as problems with the heating and air conditioning systems. Read those reports two or three times, and negotiate as needed.
Plan extra time for closing
Anyone who has bought a house in the past knows that closings have a tendency to drag out. In the winter, the process could take even longer.The closer you get to the holiday season, the higher the chances you or the sellers might have trips planned. Our schedules tend to fill up fast during the winter months with vacations, holiday parties, office events and more. Plan accordingly and be patient if the house cannot close as soon as you’d prefer. We promise the wait will be worth it.
If you are thinking about buying a house during the off-season, Network Real Estate would be honored to represent you and advocate on your behalf. We can ensure that your home-buying process will be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, no matter what time of year you start your search.
Neal Johnson is a CMCA, CRB, CNE and GRI-certified, licensed real estate broker at Network Real Estate, which has exclusively served a high volume of property sales and purchases in the greater Wilmington area for more than 30 years. With three offices at College Road, historic downtown Wilmington and Pleasure Island, Network’s brokers are widespread and well-versed in this marketplace, making Network a preferred real estate company for first-time homebuyers and beyond.
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