The summer lull in the real estate market is here, as people trade open houses for days at the beach.
But after Labor Day comes bargain season, even in this seller’s market, so now is the time for home buyers to prepare.
Anthony Lamacchia, owner of Lamacchia Realty, has good news for home buyers entering or reentering the market this fall. Historically, fall has always been the best time to buy a residential property. If he were going to buy real estate, he said, he’d do it in the fall.
“There is always an increase in inventory in the fall,” Lamacchia said. “It peaks between late September and early October. Motivated sellers make price adjustments especially between mid-October and mid-November. There is no better time to buy, but it’s not such a great time to sell.”
Lamacchia said summers can be difficult and slow as sellers see the high prices their neighbor’s homes commanded in the spring and list their homes similarly or even a little higher. Those homes sit on the market not because there is something wrong with them, but because spring prices are driven up by the number of buyers in the market.
“This summer and fall will be busier,” he said. “Interest rates are down, and there’s more optimism. The economy is doing well. I think we’ll have more home sales than last year. But the market has cooled; it’s not as crazy as it was in the spring of 2018. That’s why inventory has been 10 to 20 percent higher.”
Lamacchia said real estate is all about supply and demand. When inventory bumps up after Labor Day, there are relatively fewer buyers, and prices will dip. He said people thinking about buying next spring should consider jumping into the market in the fall if they can.
“Buyers should take advantage of when inventory is at its highest, but don’t get greedy,” he said. “Be smart. Take advantage of market conditions, but don’t overplay your hand. Sellers should recognize that inventory is higher and that it’s not early spring. You can’t one-up your neighbor who sold in the spring.”
Agent Sandy Tobin of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Needham agreed. She said she counsels all of her buyers to wait until fall if they can. She said summer is the time for buyers to start talking to a real estate agent and get prepared for the fall.
“The next thing buyers need is a mortgage preapproval letter,” Tobin said. “That will tell you how much you can afford to borrow and prove to the seller you have the means to buy. You’ll also need cash for the deposit, so make sure you’re liquid.”
The window for new listings more or less closes a week or so before Thanksgiving, Tobin said, so buyers need to be ready early. On the other hand, sellers who put their homes on the market in November and December tend to be motivated, which is good for buyers.
“Nobody chooses to put their house on the market on December,” she said, “but life circumstances change year-round. People get transferred or divorced or their health declines. I’ve sold houses on the day before and after Christmas and two on Easter Sunday.”
Shant Banosian, a branch manager for Guaranteed Rate in Waltham, predicts a robust fall and said mid-July is the perfect time for fall buyers to get a full credit report.
“One out of four credit reports has an error,” Banosian said. “You can get those errors corrected, which raises your credit score. That will allow you to borrow more money. There are things you can do to improve your score in a relatively short time. If your credit score goes from 730 to 760, you can save an 1/8 to 1/4 percent on your interest rate.”
Buyers returning to the market this fall might need to get their preapproval updated, since they typically expire after four months.
“Next, buyers should identify where their down payment is coming from,” he said. “They should put some thought into what their budget is. They should talk to their loan officer and understand how much house they can afford and what other expenses they might have.”
Even though it’s still a seller’s market, the scales tip in favor of buyers each fall. Smart buyers should use the summer to get ready to take advantage of the deals before prices go up again in the spring.