With the frosty temperatures and snowy landscape, it’s hard to believe that spring is right around the corner. But with the hectic pace of the holidays behind us, now is the perfect time to start preparing for buying or selling a home this spring.
If you’re looking to make a move, there’s no time like the present. Right now, it’s a sellers’ market, with more demand than inventory. But that all may change as spring rolls around and the market heats up during its historically busiest months of the year. Sellers will continue to see demand, while more inventory is likely to become available as temperatures rise. Spring is typically peak real estate season, and open houses will be abundant as the weather improves and people hit the pavement looking for new homes. The good news is that home prices are on the rise, so there’s no time like the present to take the plunge and list your home, especially if you’ve waited through some dark years for home prices to recover their pre-bust values.
On the flip side, mortgage rates are also increasing, but they are nowhere near historic highs. Now is a good time to lock in a favorable rate before rates climb any higher, as they are forecast to do throughout the coming year. The sooner you can get started on this process, the better. Even if you aren’t ready to list or look, shopping around with different lenders to land a good interest rate and starting the loan preapproval process will have you in a better position to buy when it comes time to make a move. Due to more stringent lending guidelines developed in the wake of the foreclosure explosion, it can take a little longer to run your financial details through the underwriting process – a necessary step to snare a preapproval for a mortgage. Once you have a preapproval letter in hand, you’ll know exactly how much home you can afford and you’ll be ready to make an offer as soon as you find the right home.
If you’re selling a home, now is the time to enlist the aid of an experienced real estate agent to get valuable advice on your home’s value, staging your home for sale, and developing a plan to market your house effectively for a quick sale. Your agent can guide you in key decisions, such as timing your listing, assessing your home to determine whether there are any major or minor repairs necessary, and how to play up the best features of your house. With your agent’s assistance, when it comes to list, you’ll be ready to show your home.
Your agent is also your best resource for the specific market in your area, so don’t be shy asking for advice about trends in the local market and how to emphasize the best features (while downplaying any shortcomings) of your neighborhood. Your agent will also be helpful as you begin to look for a new home, with insights into your target community and access to the most current listings. With his or her help, you can begin booking showings as soon as you’re ready to look.
2014 looks to be a good year to buy and sell. By setting your plans into motion now, you’ll be ready to get the ball rolling just in time for spring.