The Heat Is On: 5 Sizzling Reasons to Buy a Home During Housing's Hottest Season
By Rena Behar
The days are getting longer. Ice cream truck jingles echo up and down the block. But the surest sign that summer is here? It just might be those "For Sale" signs popping up like dandelions in your neighborhood.
Yep, we're smack dab in the middle of the most popular time of the year to buy and sell a home. If you're thinking of starting your home search, your first instinct as a savvy shopper might be to stay away and wait for the weather—and the market—to cool down. Why battle the crowds and bidding wars if you're in no rush to move?
But there's no reason to sweat the idea of buying in the summer. In fact, there are some distinct advantages to making your way into the marketplace during housing's hottest season—as long as you can stand the heat of a little competition.
1. Prices aren't necessarily higher
"A huge myth about the real estate market is that homes sell for more in the summer and less in the winter. This is simply not true," says Dippy Chhina of Dippy Real Estate.
Let's be clear: Home prices do usually peak in June–August. And it's a seller's market in most areas. But other forces beyond the summer sun play a major role in a home's asking price, Chhina notes. They include the number of similar homes also for sale in a given area, interest rates, and the job market.
“What is true, however, is that there are more homes on the market in summer than in the winter, and there is also a higher number of sales in the summer than the winter,” Chhina says.
Which leads us to our next summer-buying advantage.
2. Inventory is broader
You wouldn’t buy a car from a dealer with only two models for sale, so why limit your options when it comes to picking a house? The open-plan kitchen you’ve been yearning for or a home in a stellar school district is much more likely to pop up in a busier marketplace.
"The large inventory offers significantly more opportunities for purchasers to identify specific floor plans, amenities, and locations," says Sarah Lillyof Five Star Lakeshore Real Estate. Buyers "feel more confident in their search because additional properties hit the market every week."
In some less competitive markets, knowing that there are plenty of homes for sale can give you more leverage for price negotiation, and peace of mind knowing that if you have to walk to away, another home will be just around the corner.
3. Buying and selling at the same time could be easier
If you need to sell your current home before you can buy another, you’ll likely have an easier time with the balancing act during the summer. Rather than getting trapped with two mortgages, you could have a more seamless transition in a busier market.
"If the client needs to sell a home before buying, the home will be more likely to sell, and potentially at a good price, allowing the client to purchase their new home sooner," says Joe Lopez of Connect Realty.
But remember, these transactions take time, so if you're planning on pulling off a double act, get ready as soon as possible so you can capture as much of that golden season as you can.
4. School's out for summer
Any beleaguered parent can tell you why this factor is crucial. By waiting until summer to make your move, you can minimize disruption to your kids' lives. Plus, their schedule is clear to bring them along to showings. (Beware, though, not all agents appreciate young kids underfoot.)
“House hunting during the summer break from school means that kids can more readily attend showings— important when offer time is of the essence and parents want each member to approve of the new family home,” says Orlando Regional Realtor Association President Bruce Elliott, of Regal R.E. Professionals.
And if the sellers have kids, they might also be trying to cement a sale in time for the new school year—and will likely be more motivated toward the end of the season.
“Sellers who find their properties still on the market as summer draws to a close and the ranks of buyers thin out may be more open to price negotiation,” Elliott says. “In addition, those buyers who were unable to secure a home after months of looking and making offers may become fatigued and drop out of the hunt."
5. You'll get to know the lay of the land
It's easier to do a little detective work on your potential home when the weather's nice and the days are longer. Trees and flowers are in full bloom, so you’ll get a better idea of your prospective new yard. You can step out on that back porch and envision what it will really, truly be like to live there and host your long-anticipated Margarita Mondays. Plus, everyone’s more active, so you'll get a better feel for the community.
“Summer brings people out of their homes, so while you are home shopping with your agent, you will get the chance to take the pulse of the neighborhood and see your potential neighbors,” says Kyle Springer of South Central Homes.
“Families can often get a feel for the neighborhood’s kid population during the day in the summer," Elliott says. "Here in Orlando, where daytime temperatures reach the high 90s and so many homes have pools, buyers listen for sounds of shouting and splashing.”
But beware! Sometimes the romance of summer can distract you from some red flags.
"It is fine to stop and smell the roses, but also pay attention to what lurks behind them,” says Jerry Grodesky of Farm and Lake Houses Real Estate.
For example: the eyesore of a junk pile in your neighbor's yard. Or the giant cellphone tower you didn't see through those beautifully full trees—that now you can't unsee. And make sure that foliage isn't blocking any potential problems with the home, such as foundation issues or peeling roof tiles.
You should also use this opportunity to test how the property holds up in warm weather. See how well the air conditioning works when it's pushing 100 degrees outside, and open all the windows to see if any stick or simply won't open. Of course, your home inspector will check these things, but it never hurts to get a jump-start.
Rena Behar is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn. She’s contributed to The Wirecutter, Groupon, Texas Monthly, and other publications. Follow @renadb