Ready, Set, Go: Labor Day Kicks Off Northern California's Fall Real Estate Season
Labor Day is more than a salute to workers and a coveted Monday holiday. It signals the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. And for homebuyers and sellers, Labor Day also marks the start of the fall real estate season — a popular time to make a deal and find a new home now that family vacations are over and summer home-improvement projects are completed. With Northern California’s balmy fall weather, this is a prime time to shop for that perfect starter home or trade up to the home you’ve always dreamed of. It’s never too early to start preparing for the what may be the most most important purchase of your life. To help you, we’ve gathered a selection of tips, how-tos, and information sheets Pacific Union has published, plus a few links to some helpful sources. Take a look: WHAT TRENDS ARE AHEAD FOR THE U.S. AND BAY AREA HOUSING MARKETS: Pacific Union Chief Economist Selma Hepp offers a thorough wrap-up of the recent Housing Renaissance conference, where industry economists and analysts discussed factors that will shape the real estate landscape, including millennials, affordability conditions, and the mortgage market. LESS THAN ONE-THIRD OF HOMEBUYERS COMPARISON SHOP FOR MORTGAGE RATES: Here’s a curious trend: While most Americans consider themselves bargain hunters, a much smaller number actually shop around for mortgage rates. AN ETIQUETTE GUIDE FOR HOMEBUYERS AND THE HOME-CURIOUS: If you’re planning to hit the open-house circuit in the next few months, here are a few etiquette tips to keep you looking classy while you’re looking for a new home. WANT TO BUY A HOME IN SAN FRANCISCO? SAVE THIS MUCH CASH EACH DAY: How much money should you save each day in order to make a down payment on the typical home in the San Francisco metro area five years from now? Quite a bit, it turns out. FIRST-TIME BUYERS WANT HOMES THAT THEY CAN GROW INTO: The majority of today’s first-time buyers would prefer to forgo starter homes for properties that will meet their future needs, and almost all of them are willing to make sacrifices in order to realize their homeownership dreams. REPUTATION, RECOMMENDATIONS MOST IMPORTANT WHEN SELECTING A REAL ESTATE COMPANY: First-time homebuyers and sellers are most influenced by a real estate company’s good reputation and the recommendations of friends and family, according to a survey. Also, repeat customers report higher levels of satisfaction. SURVEY: PURCHASING A HOME ‘OVERWHELMING’: Most homebuyers believe they are financially prepared for homeownership, yet a survey found that many aren’t sure what purchasing a home will actually cost them. FIRST-TIME BUYERS’ TOUGHEST HURDLE: THE DOWN PAYMENT: In a survey of would-be homebuyers, nearly two-thirds said that they would like to provide a sizable down payment of 20 percent or more, but most were unable to do so. In fact, needing to save money for a down payment was the biggest deterrent to buying a home. AVERAGE DOWN-PAYMENT SAVINGS TIME: 3 YEARS: Regularly saving money for a down payment will be a key to success for many hopeful homebuyers given current affordability conditions, and millennials appear to be doing the best job of stashing cash. A LOOK AT TYPICAL U.S. HOMEBUYERS, SELLERS: Who is the typical homebuyer in America, and what compels him or her to enter today’s real estate market? How is the typical home purchase financed, and how satisfied is the buyer when the deal closes? What about the seller? These questions and more are answered in a survey by the National Association of Realtors. IS A LOW DOWN PAYMENT PROGRAM AN OPTION FOR YOU?: Buyers who are considering leveraging Freddie Mac’s 3 percent down payment program can do a bit of initial research to determine if it’s a potential fit. MOVING INTO A NEW HOME? CHOOSE YOUR MOVING COMPANY CAREFULLY: Moving into a new home? You will greatly reduce your chance of trouble with moving companies by conducting a bit of due diligence and choosing carefully. And a few links: The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a variety of tip sheets and online tools to help homebuyers learn what to expect and what questions to ask. Topics include interest rate and mortgage backgrounders, loan options, monthly payment worksheet, a closing checklist, and a disclosure explainer. The California Housing Finance Agency has published 10 tips: “What You Should Know Before Buying a Home.” The California Department of Veterans Affairs has a smart guide to the homebuying process, whether you’re a military veteran or not.