After a hot, steady real estate market this summer, the fall market has arrived with a slew of brand new inventory for buyers. Most people do not realize market trends, but the fall real estate market is the second most productive of the year after the spring real estate market beginning in March. While the D.C. area’s market has shown conservative growth this year compared to previous years, the fall market is expected once again to bring more housing inventory without significant rises to prices.
Regardless of the decision of selling a house, the fall season for any homeowner should include a standard maintenance list to prepare the home for colder weather. Generally speaking, homeowners should service their appliances, HVAC system and ensure all major aspects of the home are in good working order.
Aesthetically, sellers should think of de-cluttering their space and presenting their property as neutral as possible so that buyers can envision themselves in your space. For potential sellers, this standard maintenance can increase desirability, and for those homeowners not in the market, fall maintenance can save both money and time in the coming months.
Of course, we cannot forget about buyers who are hoping to make a purchase this fall. With inventory rising and more listings coming on market during the month of October, buyers entering the market will also follow. Buyers should certainly not expect to get a steal in the D.C. marketplace. In fact, the majority of properties just listed on the market will likely only stay on market for 1-2 weeks in most hot neighborhoods across the city.
For this reason, buyers should be prepared for the fall market in every way possible. The first step in this process is to be pre-approved for a mortgage before even entering a home. A pre-approval letter, which is different from pre-qualification, shows a seller that you are a serious buyer and you have already taken the necessary steps to apply for a mortgage. Want to take it a step further? Talk to your loan officer about being fully approved as an individual so that you as an applicant have full loan approval prior to making an offer on a property.
Moreover, some buyers are intimidated or burned out from the notion of multiple offers or “bidding wars” for a particular property. While common in the D.C. area, there are ways for buyers to make their offer more competitive. Of course, the first way to stand out is price. Escalation clauses are one popular way to stand out by price, and buyers who have found their dream home should consider escalations increasing by at least 1 percent of the listed price. Additionally, buyers can become more attractive in competitive offer situations by pre-inspecting the property (getting rid of a home inspection contingency), being flexible on the settlement date, and eliminating the need to sell a home to purchase a new one.
Finally, some homeowners and potential buyers may choose to wait until after the fall market to enter into the market. Remember that the winter real estate market (the time during late November until early January) is one of the slowest times every year. Inventory during this time may appear stale to buyers after sitting on the market throughout the fall; thus, the winter months are much more of a buyer’s market than a sellers.
As we move farther into the fall real estate market, expect the D.C. area to see an uptick in production throughout the coming months.