Summer house hunting brings benefits, challenges
It's the summer house-hunting season. "Most people look during the summer, and most people sell during the summer," said agent Cindy Lawrence of Keller Williams Realty New Tampa. "The kids are out of school; so it's a good time to relocate and not have to move children during the school year," she explained. Lawrence said it is important to start looking for a home early if you want to be moved in before the end of summer."Generally, for your loan, it is going to take at least 30 days" after you find the home you want, she said. Lawrence added that it could be more like 60 to 90 days if you are buying a short sale. A short sale is a property that is sold by the bank for less than the outstanding amount of the loan with the consent of the owner, according to Foreclosure.com. When it comes to looking at individual houses, Lawrence also has some advice. "Make sure to limit the number of homes you look at in one day," the Tampa native said. "Look at your favorites first." She also suggested dressing for warm weather and bringing a bottle of water. "It really heats up when you are looking at homes," she said. "With a lot of short sales, these homes don't have air conditioning on." In many cases, she said, these homes are not hooked up to any utilities; so it is also easier to see such properties during the summer as the sun goes down. Speaking of short sales, there are a multitude of bank-owned properties out there, but they are not flooding the market, according to Lawrence. She said such a strategy stabilizes prices and also almost guarantees multiple offers on properties right now. It can be a buyers' market, though, Lawrence said. She said she has seen VA loans as low as 5 percent and homes once going for $400,000 are now being sold for just less than $200,000. While home shoppers in the northeast part of the country may want to check pipes and heaters, Lawrence said, Tampa's year-round warm weather will not require homeowners to do such inspections. When looking at a home in the summer, Lawrence recommends people bring their kids. "Letting the kids be part of the process is always good," she said. She has seen children get excited about pools, big back yards, nearby parks and also picking out what bedroom they would like. "It really makes it easier for them to transition and leave friends behind," she said. Looking on the weekends, she said, will also give families a good idea of the other children in the neighborhood. Although with school out, Lawrence said, there is one thing people might not realize about the house until school is back in session — traffic. She said house hunters should scope out how close schools are located to the homes. "In the summer the traffic is lighter," she said. Lawrence said she lives near a school and there are a lot of cars lined up and down the blocks in the morning and afternoon. While most people want to have some sort of vacation during the summer, don't worry if your agent is looking for some rest and relaxation away. "Realtors have a back-up plan," she said. She went to Anna Maria Island one weekend but was still able to sell a house. The seller's agent let the prospective buyers into the property and Lawrence got all the necessary paperwork done for clients over the phone and online. "New technology makes everything easier," she said.