Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in October 2020 and has been revised to reflect industry updates.
Similar to seasonal temperatures, the fall real estate market traditionally experiences a cooling period. With more flexible work-from-home schedules, additional space requirements, competitive interest and mortgage rates, and highly motivated buyers, this year’s market is again expected to outpace spring and summer transactions.
Kicking off a fall season spike, September 2020 contract signings alone rose 23 percent year over year, along with nine new pending contracts for every 10 listings, according to the National Association of Realtors.
This year’s fall real estate market is expected to experience similar momentum. According to Realtor.com Senior Economist George Ratiu, the expectation will be unusually high, and typical to that of warmer months.
“I expect an unusually busy fall season,” he says in a recent article on the real estate news site. “Sellers are putting homes on the market. Normally this activity happens early in the spring.”
1. Pent-Up Demand
As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic changed the way we work and socialize, it also altered how we live. With many potential homebuyers commencing their search in the spring and summer, related shutdowns forced the adoption of a wait-and-see approach.
However, as stay-at-home mandates and restrictions ease, and other additional safety measures implemented, consumers are feeling more comfortable regarding person-to-person interactions and attending open houses, for example.
2. Flexible Work-From-Home Schedules
With many businesses maintaining remote, work-from-home schedules, there’s no longer an urgency to find, finance, and close on a new home prior to starting a new job, or relocating, either.
This non-traditional model also provides more leeway when concurrently selling and purchasing a home. Buyers aren’t obligated to rush into a new space if their current home sells quicker than anticipated.
3. Highly Motivated Buyers
Historically, low interest rates are proven leading indicators of the fall homebuying boom. With many school districts returning to in-person instruction and organizations giving employees the choice of remote, hybrid, or in-person work environments, demand is expected to stay on par with increased consumer confidence.
It’s also important to move quickly on financing. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or looking to upgrade or downsize, it’s best to work with a reputable lender, who can assist with your pre-approval and mortgage process.
4. Additional Space
Many are also realizing changing space needs. With increased remote work setups, prospective buyers require more space and rooms for home offices. Many homeowners are continuing to spend more time at home since the onset of the pandemic—hence the requirements of larger yards and in-home amenities.
5. Home Ownership Benefits
The aforementioned favorable interest rates are just one of many benefits for renters to consider homeownership. Those purchasing in the fall are also still eligible for homebuyer tax breaks during the current year. Deductions include mortgage interest, insurance premiums, and property taxes. These can also be deducted if prepaid on closing day.
You can also obtain end-of-year deals on home improvement materials, such as tiles, flooring, appliances, and other necessary items. Whether your project is a complete fixer-upper or merely involves a few cosmetic improvements, the fall offers many discounts as retailers transition to newer products.
6. Several Mortgage Options
With so many financing choices available for both first-time and seasoned homebuyers, it’s best to consult a reputable lender offering government-backed, conventional, and home equity loans.
When working with a lender such as Contour Mortgage, you will gain a foothold on specific requirements, qualifications, first-time homebuying incentives and grants, and other pertinent information. If you’re applying for a government-backed mortgage, such as those offered through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), or Veterans Affairs (VA), it’s prudent to ensure your lender is approved to offer these products.
7. Rising Home Values Creating Quicker Equity
Unlike renting, owning a home builds equity over time, especially in this currently appreciating market. With each mortgage payment, you’re creating an invaluable asset for your family’s future. As home prices continue to increase, you’re already in a solid position should you decide to sell, upgrade, or trade up.
8. Streamlined Search & Buying Processes
The real estate market was already utilizing online marketing tools prior to COVID-19, such as high-resolution photos, 3-D videos and walkthroughs, livestream tours, and other interactive functions.
As the pandemic halted in-person meetings, listing appointments, and open houses, these technologies became even more of a necessity. While many lenders and real estate professionals have resumed person-to-person interactions, these tools remain for those more comfortable with a virtual process.
Some in-person meetings might still be required, so it’s best to consult with your mortgage lender to avoid any confusion.
9. Settling in Before the Holiday Season
Moving into your dream home before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is another reason why the fall house-hunting season is gaining popularity. Should everything run smoothly, most homeowners can expect to close on their new home in time for holiday celebrations and decorating.
Working with an experienced loan officer through Contour Mortgage can provide added assurance—from pre-approval to closing day.
10. New Construction Discounts
As aforementioned, homeowners can take advantage of year-end discounts on building materials. Many builders and contractors will also adjust pricing for new construction during the less-busy fall and winter months.
With pandemic-related materials delays causing bottlenecks in the busier warmer months, waiting until the fall is a wiser choice when starting a larger renovation project or home construction.
Achieving Your Dream Home
With so many options available when it comes to financing a new home, it’s best to work with an experienced mortgage lender who can walk you through the financing process—from start to finish.