Hand-hewn oak log five-bedroom home in Appleton, Wisconsin

A hand-hewn oak log five-bedroom home built in 1855 in Appleton, Wisconsin, by Scandinavian settlers now sits on a private 1.2-acre Barrington Hills lot and is listed by Lori Rowe of Coldwell Banker for $795,000. (Photo by Meg Berger of VHT Studios.)

So you’ve missed the big summer real estate market, and you’re left thinking, “Now what?” Have no fear — according to expert brokers Kathryn Bader Mangel of Team Mangel at @properties, Kathy Hartsig of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and Katie Traines of @properties, there are plenty of great reasons to shop right now. Here are their top tips for buying a home this fall.

1. Don’t be afraid to haggle with sellers as the weather cools down.

“If a property is still on the market in the fall, you have a better chance of negotiating the price,” Hartsig says. Traines adds, “Things that started at a higher price are sitting there, and people don’t want their houses on the market over the holidays.”

2. Choose a seasoned realtor.

“Work with someone who knows the area well,” Traines says. “You want to get all the facts before buying.”

3. Start working with a tax attorney right away to appeal your taxes.

“Doing this will save you money in the long run,” Mangel says.

4. An older home could be a diamond in the rough.

“A lot of new buyers aren’t interested in taking on a home with a long age, but you should think outside the box when you look at older homes,” Hartsig says. “Formal rooms can easily be turned contemporary.”

5. Make appointments with schools while they’re in session.

“Get to know the different school districts,” Mangel says. “If you’re buying a home in the fall, you can sit in on classes your kids would be in and see what they’re like firsthand.”

6. Strike while the iron is hot.

“We don’t know where housing is going in the next year. Mortgage rates are historically low right now, and if you wait a year to buy, housing might increase in value, and you’ll end up paying more,” Traines says. “If the rates go up, even if it isn’t by a lot, you could look at a larger payment in the long run.”

Seven-bedroom red-brick colonial with indoor sports court in Kenilworth

This seven-bedroom red-brick colonial with indoor sports court in Kenilworth is listed with Team Mangel of @Properties for $2,995,000. (Photo by VHT Studios.)

7. Bigger isn’t necessarily better.

“If you’re buying new, bigger isn’t always better,” Hartsig says. “If you want a new-construction house, research the builder and other homes that they’ve built to get a better idea of what you’re paying for.”

8. Do your research on the neighborhood.

“Schools, restaurants, home features, websites all share tons of information online,” Mangel says. “This enables buyers to be better informed than ever.”

9. Choose location wisely.

“You want to be in the best location for your dollars,” Traines says. “That means if you want to be closer to the train, you’ll pay a premium.”

10. Make sure you have a house inspector that can spot weather-related damages.

“Once you find something you like, you need the home to be fully inspected because the wear and tear a home goes through in Chicago is a lot more expensive than in places where it’s always hot,” Mangel says.


More from Make It Better: