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The Best Time to Buy a House in Southern California

Southern California is known for its prime real estate and expensive housing costs. Don’t let this deter you — buying at the right time during the calendar year could save you some serious money and allow you to live in paradise.
Southern California is known for its prime real estate and expensive housing costs. Don’t let this deter you — buying at the right time during the calendar year could save you some serious money and allow you to live in paradise.

Purchasing a home depends as much on timing as it does on financial stability. It’s a practice in juggling and balance — akin to a circus act. All pieces need to be in the right place for your home purchase to be a permanent success rather than eventual failure.

Oscillating prices, unlimited inventory, and fierce competition amongst buyers are most often related to the time of the year. Towards the end of the calendar year, sellers begin to decrease the price or accept lower offers because they just need to get rid of their home before the holidays roll around. The real estate market takes a sharp nosedive at this time meaning the chances of selling their property before spring also dip.

It’s important that buyers watch out for interest rate trends and if they are steadily rising, the pertinent time to buy could be as soon as possible. Having this on the radar could end up saving you thousands over the life of your mortgage loan.

Buying a home is a huge investment of time, energy, and money. This is especially true depending on where you’re looking to put down roots. The most ideal time to buy is often location specific. Such is the case in Southern California — a consistently desirable place to live and also one of the most notoriously expensive.

Best Time to Buy in Southern California

The Southern California housing market is hot all of the time. Southern California is blessed with a temperate climate, booming economy, varied topography, progressive culture, and a diverse population — making it one of the most sought after places to live.

Average housing prices consistently reflect this livability. However, don’t let that deter you from securing your dream home in this pleasant region.

Let’s take a look at the Riverside housing market. Just outside of Los Angeles, Riverside is still relatively affordable for Southern California. It also provides beach, urban, and mountain access. Currently, the average home cost is $368,300. When compared to LA, this is inexpensive — LA’s average cost sits at $652,200.

Because California’s climate is so moderate — the selling season is much longer than more northern areas. In Riverside, new inventory floods the market starting in March and does not cease until August. LA lasts even longer — from February to October.

Competition mirrors this uptick in inventory but decreases as summer comes to an end and schools re-open. Whatever inventory hasn’t sold over spring and summer is heavily discounted in November and December.

December is the best month to buy throughout Southern California. While it may not be ideal to purchase a home, move, and re-settle around the holiday season, it can shave thousands off your mortgage.

Best Places in Southern California to Live

Temecula

A more affordable city than many of its neighbors, Temecula is a mid-size desert town close to San Diego. Over 80% of residents are married and 47% have children under the age of 18. The five-year appreciation of homes came in at 8.1%. It’s a good time to buy and settle down in this warm city.

Rancho Santa Margarita

A population of about 50,000 makes this city approachable and charming. Low crime, good public schools and its proximity to the mountains make it a fun and unique place to start a family. The job market and economy are solid so if you’re planning a career change, Rancho Santa Margarita could be just the place.

Irvine

This well known Southern California city scores extremely well on livability factors - earning an A+ in the categories of public schools, low crime rate, weather, and proximity to amenities. Employment is bountiful and wages are well matched with the cost of living.

Seal Beach

This mid-size city is nestled between Huntington Beach and Long Beach. Home prices are more affordable than its neighboring coastal towns and continue to rise at a slow, steady rate. Low crime and great public schools make this a wonderful place to put down roots and raise a family.

Murrieta

With almost no crime and amazing weather, Murrieta is a perfect city for young couples or singles looking for social, eccentric cities. Housing costs are high - similar to much of Southern California - but you’re close to great amenities, reliable public transportation, and just off the beach.

Getting a Great Deal on Your Southern California Dream Home

Find an Experienced Southern California Real Estate Agent

House hunting is a full-time job - especially if you’re a new resident of Southern California. Finding a house in your desired location, with good public schools, a short work commute, and low noise pollution is a balancing act in and of itself. An experienced local realtor is the best resource when it comes to landing a place that meets your desired criteria.

Learn more: What Does a Real Estate Agent Do for a Buyer?

Assess Your Needs and Communicate Your Goals

Clearly outlining your desired criteria is vital in the early stages of home buying. Maybe you have an idea of what your dream home looks like but need to pin down the details. An experienced realtor can provide guidance and expertise in what to look for when buying a home. The clearer you are with your needs and goals, the more efficient your realtor can be when house hunting.

Learn More: What to Look for When Buying a Home

Find a Lender and Secure Financing

This is when an experienced realtor really becomes an asset. Once they understand your financial picture and determine your mortgage needs - they’ll be able to access specific lenders and get the best quotes, most applicable to your situation. If you’re on a tight timeline, let your realtor know. Closing often takes upwards of 30 days and they’ll be able to plan accordingly.

Learn More: A Step-By-Step Guide to the Home Loan Process

Negotiate for the Best Possible Price

In order to negotiate a favorable price for both you and the seller, it’s important to call upon tangible details about the home or property. For example, you’ve found the house you want, however, the roof needs replacement and the swimming pool could use resurfacing. Maybe the home only needs a simple paint job. Your realtor will be able to use their expertise coupled with the results of the inspection to ask for a lower price.

Learn More: How to Find a Buyer’s Agent That’s a Good Negotiator

Ready to start your home search in Southern California? Contact a Clever Partner Agent for a no-obligation consultation.

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Ben Mizes

Ben Mizes is the co-founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top agents to save thousands on commission. He's an active real estate investor with 22 units in St. Louis and a licensed agent in Missouri. Ben enjoys writing about real estate, investing, personal finance, and financial freedom. He's a serial entrepreneur, having run several successful startups before Clever Real Estate. Ben's writing has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Realtor News, CNBC, and BiggerPockets.

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