Feeling like spring 2019 might be the right time to buy a home in Nashville? You’ll have lots of company — “buying a home in the spring and summer these days looks like something you’d see out of The Hunger Games,” Bankrate said a few months back.
That’s a little… extreme, but spring and summer do tend to be the busiest times for buying a home in Nashville and elsewhere, so odds are, you will end up with more competition, and more pressure (usually, on the plus side, with more listing options, too).
Our advice: The best way to ensure that your homebuying experience in Nashville is a positive one is to start now, while we’re still in the throes of winter.
Why it’s worth starting early if you’re buying a home in Nashville
Buying a home in Nashville — or anywhere, for that matter — is a process. Step, by step, by step.
Each part of that process takes time, and each step of the way, that time can vary widely. So if you’re hoping to be in your new home by the end of your lease in two months… waiting until you’re up against a tight deadline can add a level of pressure that doesn’t help you find the right home, rather than just a home.
First, you’ll have the process of putting together your team — for starters, a Realtor, and a lender. With both, you’ll want to do some research and make sure you find a good match.
Are you thinking about buying a home in a specific neighborhood? Are you a first-time buyer with a lot of anxiety and a need for a Realtor who’s comfortable with nerves? That all feeds into your decision process. While we’d of course love if you’d choose ACRE, we ultimately hope you end up with the Realtor who best fits your needs, even if it’s not us. Ask for recommendations, and talk to several Nashville real estate professionals to make sure they’re a match.
Same goes with a lender. Do you need a mortgage company that can facilitate a faster closing? One that’s dealt with past credit issues? Shop around (if you’ve already found your Realtor, they can help), and find the right folks for your team.
Then there’s the actual househunting. It can vary widely, depending on your budget, your expectations, the market conditions in the area you’re targeting, and a slew of other factors. Wisdom from the Home Buying Institute:
“On average, the househunting stage can take three to six weeks. But it can easily go longer in larger markets with a lot of inventory, and for buyers who are limited to weekend searches.”
On average in the U.S., potential homebuyers tour 10 homes before they find one they’re excited to make an offer on. We routinely see buyers touring many more homes — 20, 30… There are as many variations as there are homebuyer personalities.
Do you tend to be a quick decision maker? Prone to holding out for peak perfection? Are you looking in a white-hot neighborhood, or one that’s a little sleepier?
Your househunting process will be uniquely yours, but from experience, we’d recommend that you give yourself a fair amount of time to look, so you can explore with a focus on your needs, not your deadline.
Once you submit an offer, you’ll enter the negotiation process — anything from a day to a week or more — and then the inspection.
Home inspections just take a few hours, but they need to be scheduled and performed, and some follow-up negotiations routinely follow, often with repairs, concessions or other corrections.
Fannie Mae data from recent years said the average closing time for U.S. homebuyers was between 46 and 49 days. Average days on the market for a home in Nashville, as of January, 2019, was 40 days.
Rough sense: Between figuring out where you want to look, getting pre-approved, finding the right place, negotiating and then finally taking the keys to your new Nashville home, you might have two months, maybe three or more.
What to do to get ready for buying a home
All the above is to say that, when it comes to the homebuying process, starting early with prep and research makes things a little easier on you.
What you can do now, as a prospective Nashville homebuyer, to simplify your house hunt:
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage
This helps immensely, because it not only makes you an appealing buyer when you’re ready to submit an offer, but gives you a real, meat-and-potatoes look at what you can reasonably afford. Your lender will crunch the financial numbers to calculate the maximum amount you can borrow, but talk about what your monthly expense comfort zone looks like to you too. Your lender will be able to help guide you toward staying in that range as you search for a home. Investopedia has a good primer on what you’ll need to do to get pre-approved for a mortgage, if you’re not familiar with the process.
- Narrow down your focus areas
Deeply explore the neighborhoods you like; go to some open houses in the price range you think you’ll be looking in, and get the lay of the home-listings land. Get a sense of what you can get for the money where, and how that lines up with your expectations and needs. Focus on finding where you won’t buy, and where you really can’t reasonably buy, so your focus area is defined.
- Make a must-have list that’s explicitly focused on the ‘musts’
A lot of us, especially first-time homebuyers, tend to make “must-have” lists that are really closer to “like-to-have lists.” Give some hard thought to the handful of things you just would not compromise on. Maybe it’s zip code, or number of baths. Maybe it’s yard space for your dog. But focus in with that in mind: You’ll have things you want, but outlining a foundation of what you really “must” have is key to avoiding home tours that waste your time.
- Set up home listing alerts
Our website gives you the option of setting up “saved searches” — local MLS searches broken down with all your chosen parameters, from neighborhood to price range to number of beds and baths — to get new listing alerts as soon as appropriate properties hit the market. It’s a helpful way to stay abreast of options that fit your list, and, once you’re househunting in earnest, a good way to hear about new possibilities quickly. (You’ll have to create a login, but it’s easy, and, of course, free.)
Let us know if we can help
If you’re getting geared up to buy a home in Nashville in 2019, and we can be of help as you plan, please let us know. We’re always more than happy to offer guidance, search for properties and set up showings in and near Nashville. Contact ACRE here.