7 best things about buying a house in the fall

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For the first time in recent history, October surpassed June as the most popular month to get married. And these autumn-loving brides may be on to something: Although the spring months are notoriously the best time to buy real estate (as well as have a wedding), fall may be the new ideal season to buy a home.

Hear us out: One obvious reason is that it's easier to get from open house to open house without questioning if you'll need an AC repair ASAP upon moving into that home for sale in Phoenix, AZ. Also, families on a mission to move into a new home before school starts are out of the picture. Besides these two more obvious reasons, here are seven expert insights on why you should consider a fall real estate purchase.

1. There's less competition

Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. But there are still homes for sale — and in some cases, there's just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer. "[Fall] means new inventory and repositioned old inventory that did not sell in the prime season," says Wesley Stanton, a New York, NY, agent with The Stanton Hoch Team.

This puts you in a great position to negotiate. "Fall homebuyers should consider [making] lowball offers, followed by more aggressive negotiation," says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and director of education at Spark Rental. Davis points out that many sellers are very motivated to sell before the holidays. If possible, buyers should let these sellers know that they can close before Thanksgiving or before the school winter break.

2. Sellers are worn-out

Some sellers who put their homes on the market during the prime selling times of spring and summer might have been a tad overconfident by listing their homes for more than buyers were willing to spend. After months of no action, these sellers are often ready to make a deal. "Sellers who were unrealistic earlier in the year about price will now be more willing to reduce the price come fall," says Thomas Miller, a Washington, DC, real estate agent. "Because there [are fewer buyers] and because the sellers are now eager to sell, they are more inclined to take the low offer than wait another six months for spring to come around."

RELATED: 20 sneaky expenses you face when renovating your home

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1. The Minor Kitchen Items

When renovating a kitchen, most people are great about budgeting for the big-ticket items, such as appliances, cabinets, countertops and floors. But they can easily forget the “small” things, said John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada, a site that helps homeowners budget and manage renovations.

“These include garbage disposal, light fixtures, fume hood, backsplash, baseboards, plumbing fixtures and more,” he said. And they can add up, "which can cause the homeowner to be over budget by 20 to 30 percent, which equates to thousands of dollars."

Fortunately, the fix is easy, he said. Research all costs thoroughly before you start.

2. Upgrading Flooring

When you budget out those beautiful new wood floors, you might settle for a lower-priced product to save money. But later, when it comes time to buy the wood, it’s often easy to rationalize going for a nicer product. That’s great, and possibly smart in the long run for resale value and durability. However, it can easily send you over budget, said Bodrozic.

“A simple example is hardwood floors can cost $2 per square foot on the low end and up to $6 per square foot on the high end,” he said. So, he added, “for not doing enough shopping research, this can also cause the homeowner to be over budget by 30 to 75 percent.” Ouch.

3. The Forgotten Bathroom Items

As with a kitchen remodel, it’s easy to budget for major bathroom items like sinks and toilets and bathtubs, and leave out smaller items like shower curtains, shower rods, soap and shampoo holders, towel racks and a dozen other things. But again, said Bodrozic, these can really add up, putting your project over budget by 20 percent or more.

Thankfully, the same strategy can mitigate your losses: good planning. A good strategy might be to do an itemized list of your bathroom features before you renovate, and price out new replacements.

4. Landscaping

When renovating your home, landscaping is often the last thing to be done and the last thing to be funded. But cutting back here can really hurt, said Than Merrill, host of A&E’s “Flip This House” and CEO and founder of the real estate investment education company FortuneBuilders.

“People tend to get so caught up on the interior of their home that they fail to remember that the exterior should be equally desirable," he said. "Curb appeal and attractive landscaping can add up to 30 percent to your home’s overall value, so you should think twice about scrimping on your outdoor scenery."

The average nationwide cost to install landscaping is $3,015, according to Improvenet.com. Not bad, but when it comes at the end of your renovation project, when funds are low or nonexistent, $3,000 can feel mighty pricey. So plan accordingly, said Merrill.

5. Landscape Maintenance Costs

Wow, you pulled it off: You budgeted enough to install some truly impressive landscaping. Your remodel looks great from the inside, as well as from the curb. But don't forget to budget for maintaining that new landscaping. Often, said Merrill, the cost of maintaining upgraded landscaping can cost more than people think.

“Maintenance costs range from 10 to 15 percent of the home’s annual mortgage payment,” he said. “While it can be relatively cheap to initially install landscaping, it is important to factor in maintenance costs. Keeping a garden watered and well-kept can increase your monthly budget.”

6. Eating Out

If you’re doing a full kitchen renovation, or sometimes even a small one, you’ll be going without cooking capabilities for a while. And it’s no secret that renovations commonly take longer than planned. So, said Merrill, you should budget for eating out.

“It can get expensive, especially for a family,” he said. In fact, according to the Zagat 2015 Dining Trends Survey, the national average cost of dining out was $39.40 per person. You’ll likely find ways to eat out much less expensively, but make sure you plan ahead. It could make those dinners out a lot more enjoyable.

7. Replacing Kitchen Floors

The kitchen area is often exposed to water. So during a kitchen renovation, it’s not uncommon to find water damage, said Merrill. “Be sure to check for mold growth and deterioration in hardwood flooring," he said. "Any development of rot might force you to have to replace your flooring altogether.”

If that sounds expensive, it is. “Installing new floors could range upwards of $10,500,” said Merrill. The best way to combat this is to have a professional check for deterioration during your budgeting phase.

8. Faulty Wiring

When you upgrade your home during a renovation, often you’ll discover your old wiring is not up to the task or in need of upgrading itself, said Brian Davis, a real estate investor with 15 rental properties and co-founder and lead blogger at SparkRental.com.

Repairing faulty wiring can range in cost, said Davis. “It just depends on the extent of the problem,” he said. “It could be as simple as running one new wire in one room — as low as a few hundred dollars — to the entire house needing rewiring, anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000 or more.”

Fortunately, Davis said a good home inspector or contractor can find the problem early.

9. Bad Ductwork

This might not seem like such a bad problem, but it can be, said Davis.

“Poor layout or duct gauging can mean that some rooms just don’t get heated or cooled properly, even if the rest of the house is sweltering or freezing,” he said. And while an inspector will turn on the heating and central air to make sure each works, they might not leave them on long enough to make sure each room will actually heat or cool, he added.

The cost to fix it varies greatly, said Davis. “It depends on how much of the ductwork has to be replaced, how easily accessible it is and how large the house is. It could be anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, or more for large homes,” he said. A thorough assessment before starting a renovation should be done.

10. Rotting Framing

If you’re thinking rotting framing sounds bad, you’re right. Davis said this problem is one of the hardest to spot, too.

“While good home inspectors will try to open access panels if they find easily accessible ones, there’s no guarantee they’ll see any framing at all, much less a rotting section,” he said. This means you get to find it when you renovate.“I once had to reframe an entire rowhouse, which cost an extra $6,000,” said Davis. He added that he felt he got away cheap since he was already knocking down and replacing walls. “Replacing the framing in most homes means gutting, which can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000, sometimes more,” he said.

11. Plan Revisions

If you’ve hired an architect to draw up plans for your renovation, you probably budgeted his or her costs into your project. But sometimes government regulations can turn up costly surprises, said David Reiss, a law professor and the academic program director for the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) at the Brooklyn Law School.

An architect’s revisions can get pricey fast, he said. “If your architect charges $100 per hour for things like amendments to the original scope of work, and they have to spend a few hours on getting the amended plans approved, you would have those hard costs.”

Reiss advised checking your architect's and contractor's references to ensure they moved projects along in a timely manner on previous projects.

12. Extra Rent

If your remodel is extensive, you might have to move out of your home during much of the work. That means paying rent for another home or apartment. The unwelcome surprise comes if your home renovation is delayed because of problems encountered, permit delays or other factors. Delays can cost you more than you expect, said Reiss.

“If you cannot move into the home for an additional month, that will cost you an additional month’s rent somewhere else,” he said. Budget in an emergency fund for these types of delays.

13. Mold Removal

Mold is the home renovation’s version of cancer. It can quickly turn a small repair into a costly nightmare. For instance, Michael Theriault, founder of home waterproofing company The Crack Doctor, is often called in to investigate a basement leak or suspected leak in a foundation.

“However, clients rarely take into consideration the fact that if they’ve had a persistent leak for a prolonged period of time, there is likely mold that we will also have to deal with before fixing the problem,” he said.

Unfortunately, removing mold can be a timely, expensive task, and sometimes requires a special mold removal and remediation expert team, Theriault said. That can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000, depending on the severity of the problem, he said.

“This is yet again one of those reasons it is always recommended to have a little money set aside in your renovation budget for unexpected surprises,” said Theriault.

14. Sneaky Roof Problems

Is it time for a new roof? Maybe you’ve discovered a leak? Hopefully, that’s all it is. But the reason for the leak could be a larger underlying problem, said Kershan Bulsara, manager of roofing company Roofmaster.

“If you are having regular problems with ice build-up, including ice dams and icicles, this is a sign that you have a problem with heat loss in your home, which should be rectified to avoid future problems and overly high heating costs,” he said. The solution is repairing or replacing the roof, of course, but you’ll also have to install new insulation.

“It could cost over $1,000 to blow more insulation into the attic, which can be done to mitigate the heat loss that leads to ice build-up,” said Bulsara. If you are not replacing the roof and just need to fix the leaks that the ice build up caused, Bulsara said to expect at least another $500 in costs.

15. Appliance Installation

If you’re doing a kitchen remodel and using a general contractor, he or she might have a line item for appliance installation, said Jesse Fowler, president and founder of Tellus Design + Build in Costa Mesa, Calif. That’s fair enough — most of the time. But, said Fowler, often the vendor or store from which the appliances were purchased has included installation.

That results in you essentially paying twice for the installation, said Fowler. That can cost you anywhere from $400 to $1,200, he said. So, make sure you check.

16. Floor Preparation

Floor preparation costs are a big surprise to too many people, usually costing in the thousands of dollars, said Fowler. For this reason, you should always ask your general contractor or company you hire for the policy on this upfront. Try to get cost estimates and the likelihood of any problems.

“A company will very often exclude floor preparation in an original estimate and then when the house is demolished, they will point out some un-level areas, or cracks, or what looks to be damaged sub-floor, and then hit a homeowner with a big price to fix it,” he said.

17. Inadequate HVAC for Add-Ons

If you’re adding a bedroom, den or other room to your existing home, make sure your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system can handle the extra area, said Fowler.

“HVAC Systems are rated, or sized, to the square footage of a house, by around every 500 square feet on average,” he said. A 430-square-foot addition will most often require an HVAC upgrade, he said. Unfortunately, he said this is often not mentioned by the designer or general contractor in the initial budget conversations.

“Upgrading the complete system usually ranges from $5,000 to $12,000,” he added. So before you decide to add a room, make sure your HVAC system is up to the additional task.

18. Stucco Replacement for Windows and Doors

Say you’re planning to add a new door or window into an existing wall during your renovation. You might think you can get away with blending the new exterior stucco surrounding the addition into the existing stucco. Think again, said Fowler.

“When set in stucco, a removal and replacement of a new construction window will look obvious and terrible if the stucco is just patched,” he said. Instead, you’ll need to redo the wall’s stucco corner to corner, including paint.

“Depending on house size, going corner to corner on a wall for consistency as opposed to just a patch often adds $1,000 to $3,000,” added Fowler.

19. Electrical Panel Upgrade

When you renovate a space and upgrade the electrical, or add new loads, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the main electrical panel is undersized and can’t handle your improvements. The only real solution is to replace the entire panel, said Fowler.

Unfortunately, your general contractor might not tell you this up front. Fowler said expect an extra cost of $2,500 to $3,500. So make sure you investigate whether you’ll need this addition before starting any project that includes electrical.

20. Adding Finishing Touches

When you finish a remodel, it’s only natural to want to finish it off with new furniture and fixtures. But that cost can be shocking, said Rick Cantu, vice president and manager of 5Miles, a mobile marketplace for new artisan and pre-owned goods.

“Suddenly the couch, chairs, lamps and coffee table you want put you way over budget,” said Cantu. “What people might not know is that they can get similar items, or something that they can revamp and really personalize, at a much lower cost from a mobile marketplace."

For example, he said new couches can run from $300 to thousands of dollars but can be found for a fraction of the cost on mobile marketplaces. The same goes for everything from sconces and lamps to barstools and dining tables.

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3. Sellers are serious

Not all homes on the market in fall are summer leftovers. Some people need to sell in the fall because the timing is right. Maybe they were having a home built, and it's now ready. Maybe they need to move because of a job. "The sellers with houses on the market in the fall tend to be serious," says Sam Heskel, president of Nadlan Valuation, an appraisal management company in Brooklyn, NY. "That means sellers could be more open to negotiating and accepting a lower offer."

4. You can take advantage of tax breaks

First-time homebuyers, take note: Although you can't escape paying income tax, you can make a dent in what you owe when you become a homeowner. "Property tax and mortgage interest are both deductions you can take for your whole year's worth of income, even if you closed on your home in December," says David Hryck, a New York, NY tax adviser, lawyer, and personal finance expert. "Any payments that are made prior to the closing of the loan are tax-deductible. This can make a serious difference in the amount you owe the government at the end of the year."

5. Fall is a safer time of year

Did you know that burglars have peak seasons? They do, says Sarah Brown, a home safety expert for SafeWise.com. "July and August are prime months for burglaries to take place," she says. "Waiting until the fall [to buy] gives you an advantage when learning about a home and the neighborhood." You'll be settled in your home and can take precautions — like setting up that new alarm system — before the next burglary season rolls around. Note: Check Trulia's local maps with the crime filter before you buy.

6. You're the center of attention

Because spring and summer are ideal times to buy a home, real estate agents are usually busier then. And that could mean you might not always get the attention you want. This is also true for other professionals you're working with to buy a house. "Service providers, such as mortgage lenders and title companies, are moving out of the summertime sales swamp and can often respond more quickly," says John Lazenby, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association in Orlando, FL.

The same goes for movers. "Because summer is peak moving season, people often experience more delays and service issues, such as moving companies reaching capacity and running out of trucks to pick up shipments," says Jack Griffin, president and chief operating officer of Atlas World Group. "The probability of experiencing a delay goes way down in the fall season."

7. You can take advantage of end-of-year sales to outfit your home

There are bound to be improvements you'll want to make after buying a house. You'll also probably need to buy items to maintain your home, and if appliances weren't part of the deal, you'll need those too. Wouldn't it be great to coordinate your home purchase with sales on items you'll need? According to Consumer Reports, the calendar determines when it's a good time to buy all sorts of consumer goods. In particular, September is a great time for buying carpet and paint. October means lawn mowers go on sale, and appliances and cookware are cheaper in November.

Did you buy your home in the fall? Would you recommend buying in the fall real estate market? Let us know in the comments!

The post 7 Best Things About Buying A House In The Fall appeared first on Trulia's Blog.

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