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.
Buying a house is a stressful and emotional process. You'll likely have to spend weeks touring properties, fill out hundreds of forms, and invest a large chunk of your savings to secure the right house.
One way to make buying a house easier is starting the process at the right time. In Southern California, housing inventory, mortgage rates, and market trends vary from month to month.
For example, this year listing prices for homes in California were lowest in April. On average, homes were $158,882 less expensive. While in November — the month with the highest prices — the listing prices were $165,094 more than the annual average.
In truth, the best time to buy a house really depends on your priorities and situation. Read on to find out which time of year will give you the most options and the biggest savings when buying a house in Southern California.
Best Month For
11.5% lower than average
13.2% more homes to choose from
2.88% interest for 30-year mortgage
Realtor.com data (10/1/2020)
Bankrate data (12/1/2020)
If you're interested in buying a home, the first step in the home buying journey is to find an experienced realtor who's an expert in your local market. The right agent can help you find the best house for your budget and priorities - and negotiate a winning offer so you don't miss out on your dream home.
The easiest way to find a great local realtor is to use a free service like Clever Real Estate. Clever matches home buyers like you with top agents in your area so you can compare your options and choose a realtor who's the right fit for you.
You can interview multiple agents until you find the perfect fit, or walk away at any time - Clever's service is 100% free with no obligation. Fill out the form below to instantly request hand-picked agent matches now!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Find a Lender and Secure Financing
Unless you plan to buy your home with cash, you'll need to apply for a mortgage. For most home buyers in Southern California, interest rates are among the biggest factors when choosing a lender. Doing a little upfront research and comparing options to find the best rates could save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
For example, in California a typical house is worth $599,000. Assuming a 20% down payment, if you took out a 30-year mortgage for 3.5%, your monthly payment would be $2,137. But if you shopped around and found a 3% mortgage, your monthly payment would drop to about $2,020.
Getting a mortgage is a big decision – and it pays to shop around! Keep shopping until you find a lender with competitive rates who also understands your goals. Don’t get pressured into taking on a bigger loan than you’re comfortable with – work with a lender who explains what you’re really signing up for.
It’s easy to start your home buying journey – answer a few questions to get instantly matched with a lender who works in your area.
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.
Ready to start your home search in Southern California? Contact a Clever Partner Agent for a no-obligation consultation.