When should you start house hunting in order to move in this Fall?

Asked by Trulia Washington DC, Charlotte, NC Thu Apr 4, 2013

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Miekeba Jones, Agent, Silver Spring, MD
Sat Apr 6, 2013
Hi Trulia, Now is a good time to house hunt!
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Maureen Dwyer, Agent, Ashburn, VA
Sat Apr 6, 2013
I'm with "no time like the present" which will allow you the time to change as you encounter information that might change your search strategy. For one thing, prices will be higher in the areas you'll want (without even knowing what that is!) because they always are. If you are looking for the right school, the right metro stop/commute, the right floorplan or walkable nirhgborhood so are lots and lots of other house hunters. Because you will be making trade-offs and because there are so many distinctive neighborhoods in DMV (DC, MD, VA), the sooner you can start shifting through that data the easier it will be on your patience later. You might be making multiple offers as lovely homes under half million are competitive; the seller might want a concession, such as a rent back or you may need to do some repairs before moving in; schools in DC and MD do start in August so allowing more time can give you peace of mind and you won't feel like you're settling. Congress is in recess in August which makes August a sleepy house hunting month in DC, sometimes sellers can be tired and ready to make a deal but suburban inventory is picked over then as people want to be settled before schools start.

Start with your financing to be sure there're no flaws that might need correction. You would have the time to do that. Some lenders also will do pre-underwriting which makes your offer uber-competitive but that also means your closing is much quicker. Otherwise allow 30-60 days for your lender to have the loan ready to close. Good luck - you'll love living here!
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Santiago Tes…, Agent, Washington, DC
Fri Apr 5, 2013
Now, if you want to get good sense of property & neighborhood values.
The advantage of waiting until later in the summer is that you MAY have a bit less competition from other buyers--You may also have less inventory to choose from. Currently available inventory will last 1.6 months, last year at this time it was 2.7 months.
If you'd like to get a clear picture of the market and put the listings you're likely seeing online in context, let me know. I can also preview and advise you on properties that interest you--once I understand your requirements and preferences.
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Katrina Hill, Agent, WA,
Fri Apr 5, 2013
If you are a firsttime homebuyer I would suggest getting the overall process started now. First time home buyers are eligible for great programs that may take a little time to get the ball rolling. You would also want to give yourself some time to educate yourself and get any questions answered.

You should connect with a lender to get some idea of what they are looking for in order to wrap your mind around the mortgage process. It may be a bit premature to run your credit and get approval letter, however you may want to get some idea of what your price range might be. They will need several documents that may take some time to organize and may require requests from others (like your employer or your landlord). A lender should be able to give you a checklist to guide you.

And if you haven't already, i would start an online search to see what's available in certain quadrants of the city and what you might expect once you are ready to start looking with an agent and make an offer.

Feel free to give me a call or email with any questions or for more insight. I LOVE working with first time buyers and I have an awesome lender that is a guru on programs and funding in DC.

Talk soon!

Katrina Hill
Cell/Text: 202.409.8334

Washington, DC

Central Properties, LLC
1353 V Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
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Kelly Putz, Agent, Fairfax, VA
Thu Apr 4, 2013
Let's work backwards from a move-in date of Oct 1.

- 30 to 45 days to get to settlement, you should have a house under contract no later than Aug. 15
- At least two months to find a house, you should start looking in mid-May
- To become informed of what's on the market, get to know what you like and, more importantly, what you don't like, you should actually start looking right now.

You should be interviewing real estate agents and lenders. Or if you find your agent, they will have a lender(s) to recommend to you that you will be able to develop a good working relationship with.

- real estate commissions in DC and Virginia require all agents to have new clients sign a Buyer Agency Agreement upon a substantive discussion. ie: when you first go out to see houses. This serves 3 purposes a) you will be loyal to the agent and not work with another agent b) your agent is legally bound to you instead of the seller c) it requires the selling agent to pay your buyer agent's commission being offered through the MLS
- you cannot write an offer on a house without having a pre-approval letter from your lender
- most agents will not even take you out to see properties without that letter

Hope this helps!
Kelly Putz
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Jamie Kopper…, Agent, Washington, DC
Thu Apr 4, 2013
The market in the DC area is quite competitive right now so you'll want to give yourself time to a place that works for you and that you actually are able to buy. Not to discourage you, but a significant amount of listings are getting multiple offers and so you will have competition for some of the properties you are interested in.

If you are looking to move in by Fall, be mindful that some properties are listed through July but there is usually a big break in August and then listings resume at a lower level in September. Depending when you want to move in the Fall, you could probably look in earnest in September. But, if you are wanting move into your place in September, you realistically would want to be looking in June and July so you can close 30-45 after going under contract. Final thought is that you may have some time in between settling on your home and moving out of your other place. It can be hard to perfectly time moving out and moving in but that can often give you time to do some work to your new place.

Happy to chat about it should you want to discuss further.

Best Regards,

Jamie Koppersmith
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Justin Kitsch, Agent, Washington, DC
Thu Apr 4, 2013
I agree with the previous comment that it's best to start the process early and determine how much you're approved for with a lender. Plus, in the DC area, any offer for property must be accompanied by a mortgage pre-approval letter.

At the same time, you can start working with a real estate agent to start learning about the market and identifying properties that interest you. For example, I have several clients in your position that are planning on moving to DC in the summer/fall. They receive frequent automated searches that meet their budget, location, and other preferences, and we refine the search along the way.

It's a fairly straight-forward process, but the DC market is competitive for buyers right now. So, starting early will only help increase your knowledge of the market. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Justin Kitsch
TTR Sotheby's International Realty
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brent mendel…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Bethesda, MD
Thu Apr 4, 2013
There's not set answer but you don't want to be rushed so 3-4 months ahead of time would be my answer. At least to talk to a lender and get the loan part sorted out first. If you KNOW the credit is ready to go that does save some time. Many people have a good score but a blemish that does cost them more in the form of a higher rate. I see it on an almost daily basis. Many lenders can fix small problems if we have the time to do so. Plus in many markets you are seeing multiple offers so there is a good chance you won't be successful the first time and have to factor that into the timeline as well. Hope this was helpful and please let me know if you have any questions.


Brent Mendelson
Senior Loan Officer
1ST Mariner Mortgage
Lending in all 50 states
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