Thursday, November 09, 2006

Is it time to start looking for your new home?

One of the most frequent questions I get from buyers is, "when should I start looking?" Most people have a time frame in their head as to when they would like to be in their new home, and that's the easy part. Determining when to start looking is the more difficult part.
Actually, it's not all that difficult, but it largely depends on the buyer. Some have leases that are expiring, some need to sell their home first, and others simply want to be somewhere by sometime. In a typical resale, you're looking at about sixty days to close. Don't get me wrong, it can be less. I've done plenty of closing in 30 days, but not every seller can accommodate 30 day close and for our purpose let's think of the 30 day close as a bonus. If your interest is in new construction you could have a close date more than a year out if you buy in a pre-construction high-rise or 120 days for a 6 unit building. And if you want to be able to customize and pick your finishes that's definitely the way to go. If you don't care so much about the finishes you could be back to a 30 day close even in new construction. Still trying to figure out what neighborhoods you like the best or where you can get the most for your money? That's another factor that strongly plays into when to start your search, and I say the sooner the better. And a final consideration is personality. Do you feel compelled to see every property out there or after you see 8-10 properties you want to make a decision?

My recommendation is to start sooner rather than later to avoid putting yourself in a pressure situation. If you're working with a lease deadline, give yourself a closing sixty days plus one or two weeks before your lease expires to allow for delays and moving. And then start looking at least two or three months before that at a minimum. Need to sell your place first? I recommend my clients look at properties and determine exactly what they need, then casually keep on top of what's available until their place sells. When their current home sells they are prepared to make a quick decision because they've seen what's out there. You're into new construction and you want to choose your finishes start looking early, at least as five or six months before you want to move. Most of these properties will not be listed in the MLS. I always have an inventory of non-listed properties that I am able share with my clients and know how to get the information they're looking for. And finally, if you are early in the process and not totally sure what you're looking for, don't worry. Sometimes that can be the best time to talk to an agent. I personally find that opening a dialogue early with my clients makes the process that much less stressful for them and gives them insight into what's out there without having to visit open house after open house.

Photo courtesy of Steve Sant