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While spring generally dominates the housing market and is even known as homebuying season, it isn’t the only time you can find your dream property. In fact, peak selling months can mean more competition and higher prices. Check out our tips to ensure you get the most out of your buying process — no matter what time of year it is.

Check Inventory

Look online before you start seeing properties in real life. It is good to get an idea of what inventory is available and what the prices are like. It’s important to keep your financial health in mind and understand how much home you can really afford. You don’t want to buy a house because it is the cheapest one currently available, especially if the monthly mortgage payments will still be too high for your budget.

The Internet can provide a great opportunity to research the school system, crime rate, transportation options and property tax rates of the home and neighborhood you are thinking about. You can also capitalize on the seasonality by driving by potential homes and checking how they hold up in extreme heat, fall foliage or wintry conditions. Just be aware that the home and yard can sometimes be harder to inspect if snow covers the property.

Take Advantage of Agent’s Time

Since there are often fewer potential buyers and fewer sales, lenders, appraisers, inspectors, settlement attorneys and other real estate professionals are usually less busy and more available out of typical peak season. This means they may have more time to focus on fulfilling your home search and purchase needs. Try to work with your real estate agent on showings and paperwork. And don’t be afraid to ask why a home is still available if you are afraid the inventory may be growing stale. Sometimes a motivated seller can mean a good deal for you.

Be Ready for a Fast Turnaround

When you are looking in the off-season, you should be ready for the typical homebuying timeline to speed up. For one, sellers may be more motivated to make a deal. In some instances (depending on the situation and the real estate climate of your area) you can make a low offer or ask the seller to help on some closing costs. As there are fewer people looking for homes at the same time, you might be able to be more aggressive as a buyer. Part of your preparation should be checking your credit scores, which you can do for free on Credit.com, so you’re ready to roll when it comes time to get a mortgage.

No matter when you shop for a home, it’s important not to feel pressured to act immediately. Take the time to get educated on any new homebuying rules and find the right property for you and your family. The “right” time to buy a home is not determined by the season as much as it is your needs and goals.

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