Cheers to 2024 Buyers: A Roundup of Our Best Homebuying Advice From 2023

by Garcia Chris
14 minutes read
Cheers to 2024 Buyers: A Roundup of Our Best Homebuying Advice From 2023

Dear would-be homebuyers: We see you. You had a rough year. Mortgage rates hit highs not seen in 22 years, home prices remained at budget-busting levels, and the listing pages were not exactly bursting at the seams.

But after you take a deep cleansing breath, we have some great news for you.

The next year is shaping up to be your year. Mortgage rates are predicted to fall, more homes are set to hit the market, and as for home prices? Yup, those are likely headed south. Phew.

But what’s that you say? You missed some of the hundreds of homebuying articles Realtor.com® published last year?

Fear not. To make your journey into what promises to be 2024’s rejuvenated housing market seamless, we rounded up the very best homebuying advice we wrote about in 2023. We’ve got all the in-the-know tips and savvy strategies to help you land a fantastic home in the new year.

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Here are six of our most popular advice pieces of 2023—and a takeaway, must-know tip we want to pass on as you head into 2024. Here’s to a healthy and happy New Year in your new home!

The Massive Mistake Homebuyers May Be Tempted To Make Right Now: Is This You, Too?

The Massive Mistake Homebuyers May Be Tempted To Make Right Now: Is This You, Too?The Massive Mistake Homebuyers May Be Tempted To Make Right Now: Is This You, Too?
Many buyers think buying a home is all about timing.

(Photo-Illustration by Realtor.com; Photos: Getty Images (2))

The old housing market adage is that the perfect home is all about location. Yet these days, many buyers think buying a home is all about timing.

And it’s understandable why home shoppers have “when to buy a home” top of mind rather than “which home to buy.” The COVID-19 pandemic years were a wild real estate ride, and some buyers might feel they missed out on a housing market moment when mortgage rates and median home prices were more wallet-friendly. Other buyers might fear overpaying for a home if they buy now.

However, trying to build a housing market time machine won’t serve you well. Be present in the market you currently find yourself in, and make decisions based on today’s housing data.

Can’t-miss tip: Since trying to time the market is an almost impossible task, focus on why you are buying a home—not when. Is it for a new job, an expanding family, or to be closer to nature? The answer will help guide you to a home. And then remember that you will likely be in that house for five to seven years, which is much longer than most housing market trends.

What To Look For When Buying a House: 10 Major Red Flags

What to Look for When Buying a House: 10 Major Red FlagsWhat to Look for When Buying a House: 10 Major Red Flags
As a buyer, you have to be on the lookout for homes that are all style and no substance.

(Getty Images)

When you’re getting ready to buy a home, you are looking to fall in love—with a property.

Much like romance, the buyer and seller dance is all about a homeowner hoping to make a great first impression. Yet, as a buyer, you have to be on the lookout for homes that are all style and no substance.

You need to put on your Sherlock Holmes investigative hat and get to the bottom of whatever a home is hiding (if anything). For example, that collection of candles burning, cookies baking, and scent plug-ins could be masking a serious mildew problem. Or a home with wall-to-wall rugs could be covering up pet damage or stains.

So go ahead, kick the proverbial wheels when you’re at an open house. Open the cabinets and peer inside looking for mold, journey to the depths of the basement to check the foundation, and look for uneven tiling, which could be a sign of a quick flip.

Can’t-miss tip: You don’t want to say “I do” to a home with mold issues. Yet these tiny spores can be elusive. So search for signs of bad ventilation, such as condensation on windows or bubbling paint. These are red flags that the home has moisture that does not evaporate properly and could be a breeding ground for mold.

With Mortgage Rates in Flux, Is ‘Buy Now, Refinance Later’ Good Advice?

With Mortgage Rates in Flux, Is 'Buy Now, Refinance Later' Good Advice?With Mortgage Rates in Flux, Is 'Buy Now, Refinance Later' Good Advice?
Just like a mortgage, a refinance comes with fees to consider.

(Getty Images / Realtor.com)

Not happy with the current mortgage rate? Then the real estate market has a pitch for you: “Marry the house, date the rate.”

The thinking behind this homebuying strategy is that while a lower mortgage rate might come along in the coming years, the perfect house you just found might not.

So, what’s a buyer willing to commit to a dream home with an unloveable rate to do? Plan on dumping said rate in the coming years by refinancing.

While this rate workaround will favor some intrepid buyers, others might want to carefully consider how much rates will have to drop before dating the rate makes financial sense. In some cases, rates must fall by 1% to warrant a refinance. But in most mortgage scenarios, rates would have to plummet by 2% before a homeowner would notice a big difference in monthly payments.

Can’t-miss tip: Just like a mortgage, a refinance comes with fees, generally about 2% to 5% of the loan principal amount in closing costs. So do the math on whether or not a refinance would save you money down the line before you say, “I do.”

4 Beloved Mortgage Rules Homebuyers Should Break Right Now

4 Beloved Mortgage Rules Homebuyers Should Break Right Now4 Beloved Mortgage Rules Homebuyers Should Break Right Now
Many home shoppers have a few loan rules in mind that might be the perfect ones to rebel against.

(Getty Images)

The real estate market has been unpredictable—to say the least—as of late, in a frozen, suspended state.

One way to bust out of the market malaise is to break some rules. And as a buyer, why not start with your mortgage?

Many home shoppers have a few loan rules in mind that might be the perfect ones to rebel against. Let’s take closing costs, for instance. Homebuyers might think every cent has to come out of their pocket—yet nothing is stopping you from asking sellers to chip in.

Another myth to stop believing is that the only safe mortgage bet is a 30-year fixed-rate loan. An adjustable-rate mortgage with a low introductory rate might be a great option for those who can quickly exit that loan commitment when the higher rate kicks in (usually after five years).

Can’t-miss tip: You might think that you always have to put 20% down on a house. Yet this was never a rule and needs to go the way of the dodo bird as there are loans out there that require as little as 3.5% down. (And Veterans Affairs loans or USDA loans require zero down payment!)

How Much To Offer on a House: Should You Go Below or Above Asking Price?

How Much to Offer on a House: Should You Go Below or Above Asking Price?How Much to Offer on a House: Should You Go Below or Above Asking Price?
Before you make any emotional decision, take some time to research the home.

(Realtor.com / Getty Images)

When you find your home, you’ll likely know it. It might be a forever home or a starter home, yet something will just click, and you’ll see yourself living there. When that happens, it’s exhilarating, followed by a question: What should your offer be?

On one hand, you could offer more to make sure no one else gets the house you love. On the other hand, you might be pragmatic and want to get a great home—for a great price.

Before you make any emotional decision, take some time to research the home. If it’s been on the market a few days and homes have been selling quickly in your area for top prices, you might want to offer the asking price or more. Yet if the home has lingered for months on the market and your local real estate market is sluggish, experts say, you can generally offer less than the asking price.

Can’t-miss tip: You might be tempted to make a lowball offer if you find a home that’s truly stale and has a reduced asking price. But don’t go lower than 25% of the asking price, cautions experts. Such a bargain-basement move could insult sellers, who might then reject your offer altogether.

Own a House for $99 a Month? The New, Improved ‘Tiny’ Movement That’s Helping Homebuyers Save Big

tiny house that can be moved to a desired location, designed by Eclipse Cottagestiny house that can be moved to a desired location, designed by Eclipse Cottages
Massive savings and flexibility as to where they can live are just some of the perks of owning a tiny home.

(Photo courtesy of Eclipse Cottages / Realtor.com)

When it comes to buying a house, many shoppers don’t want to “go big” to “go home.” They simply want to “go tiny.”

What drives a buyer to live in a home that’s 600 square feet on a good day? Massive savings and flexibility as to where they can live. And these buyers are not exactly scarce. A 2023 Cinch Home Services survey on homebuying trends found that 32% of Americans are curious about buying a tiny house.

And it’s little wonder why when one homeowner slashed her monthly mortgage payments by more than half by moving to a tiny-home community. Another big bonus of living small is that the homes are eco-concious, so you’ll not only save your dollars—but also help save the planet.

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Can’t-miss tip: Before you get too wrapped up in the dream of saving tons of dough in your tiny dream house, know that you can’t get a mortgage on these little dwellings. You can, however, finance a tiny home in the same way that buyers finance an RV or mobile home.

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