When is the best time of year to buy a house?
Spring is usually the most popular time of year to buy a home in most states, but Fall doesn’t get a fair shake. I think there’s a real case to be made for fall: It’s cooler, so you’ll have less competition from other buyers. Less sweaty t-shirts (unless you’re into that kind of thing) and super hot, uncomfortable temperatures during your move. Because it’s not the hot Spring buying season, you may be able to find some much better deals. Less competition for homes on the market is good for buyers. And, with Fall’s roller-coaster weather, you can get a better idea of what the home is like in hot and cool temperatures. After all, you’re buying a home that will fit your needs in all year—even if you can only get a feel for it during one season.
You’ll need to look for things that aren’t as noticeable in the fall as they might be in the winter or summer months.
Once you have honed in on The One, and get the house Under Contract, it’s time to put it through a little “stress test” if you will. Want to make sure that your “dream home” continues to be a dream year-round? Keep these six things in mind.
1. Scope the air conditioner unit.
First: Does the home even have one? This is easier to spot if you’re house hunting during warm summer months. But if the weather’s already turned, heed this: The air might be cool now, but it won’t always be. And with the next summer almost nine whole months away, it’s easy to forget to check the AC.
If it does have AC, give the unit a thorough visual once over. Your home inspector should check the system to make sure it works properly, but it never hurts to run a few “tests” yourself. Not an HVAC expert? Yeah, well neither am I. Let’s start with turning it on to see if it works and then go from there.
Check to see if the AC’s filter has been changed recently. Then try turning down the thermostat and see if the unit works. In the mean time, make sure air is blowing through all the vents—it’s better to find blockages & issues now, with time to fix them before closing, than at the beginning of summer when sweat is running down your back and your family won’t come visit anymore! Check out the outdoor condenser unit (the big square AC thingy outside the home), listening for any weird sounds, and make sure the condensation line in the evaporator coil—likely found in the furnace—is flowing smoothly. If that sounded Japanese to you, that’s ok. That’s why smart buyers always hire a certified Home Inspector. Your Realtor will be able to refer you to some great, proven inspectors if you don’t already know one. Inspectors are pro’s and checking all this stuff is their job. Finally, examine the ductwork, looking for any rusting or loose fittings.
2. Notice your surroundings
What’s nearby? Is the home on a busy street? Look across the street, behind you, and next door. Are there bulldozers and cranes? Empty lots awaiting brand spankin’ new homes? Is the neighborhood on the upswing, or is it deteriorating? Do people take pride in their yard and their home’s appearance? Ask your future neighbors about road construction nearby (we are in Utah after all. We only have 2 seasons… winter, and road construction)— there’s nothing worse than having a peaceful, quiet home all winter until work begins with a literal bang in the spring. That really sucks.
Put on your best Sherlock Holmes hat and double down on your “due diligence” if the home is near a major intersection, or if your home is directly connected to a major road. You may even want to go knock on some of the neighbors doors. It’s not only a good way to meet your future neighbors— it’s also a great way to find out what the neighborhood is really like. I recommend driving through the neighborhood at night to get an idea what it’s like after dark.
3. How’s the drainage?
Gutters are obviously important to check. In the time between the rainy and snowy seasons, don’t forget to check the drainage. In the yard, does any water accumulating in small puddles? If so, this could indicate a leak in buried pipes (less likely) or probably some grading problems that should be addressed before the rainy season. If grading is the issue, it’s usually a cheap and easy fix. A few wheelbarrows full of soil dumped up against the home to slope the water away from the foundation is usually all it takes.
4. Any crazy slopes?
How steep is your driveway? Sure, it may be easy to navigate now—but we’re in Utah! Give it a few minutes and it will be covered in ice or snow… or both!
A steep driveway shouldn’t automatically disqualify a home, but it’s at least worth considering. It’s better to know in advance if getting in and out of the driveway is going to be a challenge during the winter.
Also check out the landscaping’s pitch around your new home’s exterior. Are there any steep hills that might cause water runoff and flooding in the yard? What about the area around your basement? If land slopes toward your basement, it could indicate potential flooding. Again, this is usually remedied easily with some dirt, but you have to know it’s a problem first.
5. Check out standing water
At the end of the summer, we’re all just happy that those damned mosquitoes have died (wishful thinking), migrated south for the winter, or moved on to annoy the crap out of someone else in a different part of the world. But those buzzing bastards will definitely be back—and you should know in advance where they like to congregate so you can pre-emptively make them homeless.
Keep an eye out for anything that collects and retains standing water.
Most of these are movable: trash cans, buckets, birdbaths, tarps, etc. But if your home is located near a small pond or a slow moving stream, there’s not a whole lot you can do besides prepare yourself mentally and invest in bug spray, citronella, and Tiki torches! Stock up on the Deet!
If you’re buying your home in fall or winter months when bugs are hiding (or hopefully dying!) just keep in mind that bugs will return if you live near any bodies or water or streams.
6. Examine the windows
If the windows in your potential home are older, you’ll want to replace them immediately—otherwise you risk wasting energy or even breaking them in a freeze. Plus older windows make the house noisier than you’d like it to be. Depending on the situation, your Realtor can even negotiate the installation of all new windows before you ever close on the home. In real estate, everything is negotiable.
But if winter is coming quickly, which it always is in Utah, you may not have any time to mess around with the windows. If that’s the case, and the windows are still sealed properly and will keep moisture out, use the winter months to put some money aside to replace them all as soon as the weather warms back up in the Spring.
Check the condition of the screens around the home to see if they need to be replaced or not. Usually homeowners will remove the screens before winter hits, so make sure you check them even if they’re all piled up in the basement.
Remember to always hire a certified home inspector. Spending a few hundred bucks now can save you from potentially being on the hook for thousands later on if the home has some structural issues or something you weren’t aware of before the purchase. Your Realtor should help you to understand the value of hiring a good inspector.
Don’t be intimidated by all this stuff to consider when buying a home in Cottonwood Heights during the fall. Your Realtor should already have a ton of experience with it all and they’ll hold your hand through the process. A great Realtor will minimize and eliminate stress, not cause more of it.
Now that you know what to check for and consider when buying a home in the fall, you’re ready to go out and find some screaming deals on a home. Aren’t you excited to throw on your favorite hoodie, grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and go house hunting this fall? Do what the savvy home buyers do- buy a home when there’s less competition for them. Happy house hunting!
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About the Author: The above article on Is Fall the Best Time to Buy a House? was written and provided by Dustin Brohm, a leader in the field of Real Estate sales, marketing, and smart home technology. Dustin can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 801-455-8753. Dustin has helped many people buy and sell Salt Lake City area homes for years.
Thinking of selling your home? I have a real passion for buying and selling Real Estate, as well as marketing & smart home technology. I’d love to share my expertise!
I help people buy and sell real estate in the following Salt Lake area cities & neighborhoods: Holladay, Cottonwood Heights, Millcreek, Olympus Cove, Canyon Rim, Sugarhouse, Midvale, Murray, East Millcreek, Sandy, White City, Draper, Riverton, Daybreak, South Jordan, West Jordan, Herriman, Bluffdale, South Salt Lake, The Avenues, Federal Heights, and of course, Salt Lake City.
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