You’ve got your financial paperwork in order and you’re finally ready to find that dream home for you and your family, but now it’s the middle of summer. Temperatures are high, the kids are out of school, and there’s so much going on — is this the right time to embark on a house hunt?
Actually, yes. According to the experts at MoneyWise, the summer can be an advantageous time to buy as sellers will often lower their prices to close a deal before kids go back to school and colder weather sets back in again.
Ready to learn more tips and tricks for keeping your cool while house hunting in the heat? Keep reading for our best advice on what to do and what to avoid to make the most of your summer house hunt.
Do Your Due Diligence
It’s still a highly competitive market in the Chicagoland area, so you’ll come out ahead if you do some smart preparation before setting out for any open houses. Having a mortgage pre-approval letter under your belt means your conversations with the seller will carry more weight and your offer will be taken more seriously.
Doing your homework also means you’ll be able to laser-focus your search on houses that are well within your budget and not waste time looking at places that aren’t a good fit for your financial situation.
You should also do some pretty heavy research into the neighborhoods you’re interested in. Take a look at the nearby communities that are up and coming. What are your priorities? Do you want to live by great schools, friends and family, and your favorite activities, or do you need to be close to your business? All of these considerations are vitally important when thinking about a massive, years-long commitment.
Build Your Team
One of the most crucial things you can do to ensure your homebuying success is to work with an experienced real estate agent with in-depth knowledge of the community and the local market. Your agent, your mortgage lender, and your title company all play a critical role in putting you together with just the right property in a neighborhood with lots of growth potential.
A top-notch team can also help you find other resources that you may need during the homebuying process, such as an appraiser, a home inspector, a real estate attorney, a general contractor, or a reputable and licensed moving company.
Know What You Want
Make a list of home features and amenities that are absolutely essential, ones that would be great to have, and ones that you’d like but can live without. Unless you’re going for a full-on fixer-upper, your essential items should include electrical and HVAC systems in good repair, a solid foundation and structure, no underlying plumbing issues, enough bathrooms for your family, and a workable location.
You may also really want things like granite countertops and hardwood floors — and while many homes today have those desirable features, a lot of the more historic houses don’t. You’ll have to decide if the cost and hassle of installing those details after you buy the home are worth it, or if it’s going to be a deal-breaker.
A top benefit of purchasing a home that needs some work is that the price will be lower than something that’s move-in ready, and you have the opportunity to customize options throughout the house to your personal taste. Upgrading to green and sustainable design choices can save you money and make your home run more efficiently.
Go For It
It’s time to hit some open houses! Typically held on the weekends (but not always, especially in competitive markets), the open house experience of walking through someone else’s home can be weird at first but it’s a necessary ritual when you’re on the house hunt. Your real estate agent will make appointments for you to take a closer look at houses they feel might be ideal for your needs, but it’s up to you to determine if it’s the right fit.
Here are some key things to watch out for when touring a home that may tell you it’s not a good investment:
- Signs of mold or mildew
- Extensive damage to baseboards, flooring, or ceiling
- Drafts and airflow
- Small closets
- Distance from neighbors
- Overwhelming fragrances or smells
- Signs of neglect like peeling paint or leaky fixtures
- Several other homes for sale close by
If you find a house that you really love, visit the neighborhood several times at different hours of the day. What’s it like late at night? How’s the traffic during the busiest part of the day? Would you feel safe letting your kids play outside there after school?
Are there parks nearby? What else is within walking distance? Are there adequate grocery shopping and exercise facilities nearby? What about a hospital or other medical care? These are all important questions that you should ask yourself before working with your real estate team to make an offer.
Don’t rush this part of the process. Sometimes prospective buyers attend dozens of open houses before finding the one that fits their needs. You’ll see all kinds of entertaining things and interesting decor choices, so we highly recommend that you don’t bring any children or pets with you to an open house.
Making the most of your summer house hunt is easy when you come prepared and know what you want. Now that you’ve found a home that checks all the boxes, you’ll want to make an offer quickly before another purchaser can snatch it away.
Once the seller accepts your offer, you’ll move into the closing process. This is an exhilarating and perhaps slightly nerve-wracking time, but your expert real estate team will be with you every step of the way. At Baird & Warner, we’ve been assisting our clients in the Chicagoland area for over 160 years — and we offer the comprehensive knowledge and experience you need to maximize your home buying experience during the summer months or any time of the year. If you’re ready to get preapproved and take off on your house hunt, reach out today!