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This is the Best Time to Buy a House in California
Real Estate

This is the Best Time to Buy a House in California

Many factors go into determining what constitutes a good time to buy a house, including some that are solely dependent on you, the buyer.

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4 min read

July 08, 2021

So you’re thinking about buying a house, but is it the best time to do so? Well, the answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. Many factors go into determining what constitutes a good time to buy a house, including some that are solely dependent on you, the buyer. Before diving into the real estate world, keep in mind that you don’t have to slowly give up on the idea of your dream home—all you need is a little bit of guidance. Here are a few things to look for and that largely fall under the umbrella of the million-dollar question: “When is the best time to buy a house in California?”

Five Things You Should Know if You're Wondering, "Is now a good time to buy a house?"

When it comes to buying a home, timing isn’t everything, but it’s a big factor. Broader market and economic factors also play a role in a purchase.

1. Prices are on the Rise 

Similar to any other industry, supply and demand play a big part in getting the best deal and ultimately determine the best time of year to buy a house. You want to have options (supply), but at the same time, you don’t want to be in competition with everyone else (demand). 

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Comparing the prices of today to that of last year would be a mistake. The uncertain times, unforeseen drops in interest rates, and rent and buy prices are on their way out of the picture. If you’re anticipating a housing market crash like the one in 2008, you should probably give up on the idea—the fundamentals that propped up the home prices back then are different than now. That’s not to say that there might not be another tumble on the horizon; however, nothing’s certain.

Historically, during the spring and summer, more homes are for sale, and in winter, real estate markets cool down.

2. Housing Market Trends Change Rapidly 

The California housing market saw a lot of changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but you shouldn't be too influenced by those trends when determining the best time to buy a home. 

For example, some towns saw an influx of residents looking for places to escape during the pandemic. However, interest in these particular areas is in no way sustainable when it comes to long-term purchase decisions. Instead, look for more evergreen qualities such as local business growth and employment opportunities to determine whether a certain location has the potential to attract more buyers post-pandemic. 

Similarly, if a town saw a large number of people leave during the pandemic, don’t immediately write it off. People might have moved away to a more affordable area while they were operating remotely. But, for example, if school districts start calling students back offline, the town will likely get its mojo back in a steady manner.

People are less active during winter, so both inventory and demand are usually low. Let's face it, who wants to move in the snow?

3. There is Less Competition During Certain Seasons

When it comes to more general trends, there’s actually more information on what determines the best months to buy a house.

The worst time to look for a house is during winter. Both inventory and demand are at a low, because who wants to move when it’s cold outside? While the prices may also be on the lower side, you’ll have fewer options to look through. On the other hand, the most options on the market are during late spring and summer. But, the competition is also stiff and consequently, the prices are quite high. This leaves fall as the best time of year to buy a house.

By the time fall rolls around, families have already settled into their new homes before the start of the school year while the number of properties on the market is still relatively high. This means that sellers can be eager to sell and buyers can score better deals. September is projected to be the best time to buy a house, but you should definitely not wait if you come across a good deal before then.

Spring is when homes start to go on the market again. More homes will be listed by realtors and sites like Redfin, and you’ll have a ton of options.

4. Keep your Credit, Down Payment, and Emergency Fund in Check

While certain housing market trends provide an overall estimation of when the best time to buy a house in this economy is, the more decisive factor depends on you and where you stand. Some questions you should ask yourself before buying include whether or not you have enough money set aside for a down payment and is your credit as strong as it could be.

If you want to snatch the lowest possible interest rate, you’ll undoubtedly need an impeccable credit history and persuasive down payment set aside. Things like first-time homebuyers programs may help you get lower credit requirements, but in these cases, you could also come off as less appealing to sellers. 

It’s also crucial that you have an emergency fund for unforeseen cases of income loss and unexpected expenses. You should have an amount that correlates to a few months (preferably six) of your living expenses set aside. Worst case scenario, you lose your job a few days after closing a house—can you afford to pay the mortgage for a few months until you get back on your feet? 

As smart as it is to research the market and move accordingly, it’s more important that you determine what’s the right time to buy a house for you specifically.

The flurry of activity in the spring tends to continue into the summer. You’ll likely observe high inventory and high competition in the market.

5. Have a Real Estate Agent that Knows the Ins and Outs of the Industry 

Last but not least, don’t do it without a real estate agent unless you have years of experience in the market yourself. A good real estate agent will save you time and money by snagging up the best deals and negotiating on your behalf. An experienced agent can get you the best deal possible whether it’s the best time to buy a house or not—they know the ins and outs of the industry and can tell when a deal is too good to miss.

In the end, the real estate market has an ever-changing pattern and idiosyncrasies. But are they definitive? Not at all. You’ll want all of your ducks in a row before you start making offers for your dream home. After all, the best time to buy a house is when you’re ready and confident enough to secure a good deal.

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