In general, there are three ways to evaluate the best time to buy a home:
- Best month: In every real estate market, there’s always a best month to buy a house or best season to buy — even in a down market.
- Best year for market and economy: Broader market trends, the state of the economy and your local job market can also dictate a better or worse time to buy.
- Best time for you: Market characteristics aside, you should plan to buy when it makes sense for your personal finances and moving timeline.
When is the best month to buy a house?
Late summer is the best season to buy a house if you want a shopping experience with enough inventory to find a home you love, while benefiting from sellers lowering prices before the fall. Therefore, the best month to buy a house is August.
Generally speaking, buyers in the fall and winter will have fewer options yet more flexibility in price, and spring and summer buyers will have more options, but less negotiating power.
Is it a good time to buy a house based on the economy?
Both national and state or local factors can affect the housing market, and your decision to buy. Nationally, things like interest rates, the job market and the overall health of the U.S. economy can impact the housing market. On a more local level, your decision to buy could be affected by buyer demand, the local job market and the local rental market.
If mortgage interest rates are low, home buying is inherently more affordable, and it makes buying a feasible option for more people. It’s beneficial to shop for rates even for small rate improvements. Here’s an example:
The current average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is hovering around 3.8% (as of September 2019). Let’s say you want to buy a $300,000 home with 20% down ($60,000). Your monthly mortgage payment (not including taxes, insurance and other costs) can vary by more than $100 a month, just based on a one-point increase in mortgage rates:
- At an interest rate of 3.8%, your monthly mortgage payment (principal + interest) would be $1,118 per month.
- At an interest rate of 4.8%, your monthly mortgage payment (principal + interest) would be $1,259 per month.
Lower interest rates can also put more expensive homes within reach for some buyers, assuming you’re also able to increase your down payment to avoid paying private mortgage insurance. For example, with a 3.8% interest rate, you could buy a $337,000 home with a 20% down payment ($67,400) for $1,256 per month — that’s $3.00 less than buying a $300,000 home with an interest rate one point higher at 4.8%.
Local market changes
In deciding a good time to buy a home, remember that purchasing when home values are trending upward is always a good idea, as you will start building equity immediately. The idea is to buy low and sell high, of course. While nobody can predict the market, these are some of the factors that might indicate a good time to buy — and a good eventual return on your investment.
- Real estate development happening in the area
- New restaurants and retail are opening
- Gaining popularity
Costs of Ownership
Being a homeowner is expensive. Research shows that the hidden costs of ownership average $9,080 per year. That includes things like taxes, insurance and utility payments, but doesn’t include landscaping and cleaning, which can add another $3,021 a year.
As of June 1, 2020 the 30 year interest rate is at 3.69% APR and 2.94% APR for the 15 year term. With current rates this low it's very attractive to buy a home as you can get a loan with favorable terms. How long will this long interest rate period last? The answer is unclear, but if you are in a position to take advantage now is the time.
Contact us at Walla Walla Valley United Country to start your home search process. We have a team of dedicated and motivated realtors ready and willing to assist you in your journey, whether you are looking to buy, sell or invest, we are your local realtor team.
Please contact me to arrange a complimentary consultation to review your short-and-long home ownership goals today!