Is now the time to buy a home?

- Prime spring home buying season is here.  So what should you know if you're looking to move or even buy your first place?  And where is the market hot if you're selling?

According to the heads of Zillow, the hottest time to sell a house is between March Madness and The Masters.

Nationally there's a real sweet spot between those two sporting events when you can get at least two percent more for your home.

So what else should you know if you're new to the real estate game?

StreetEasy's senior economist Grant Long says it's never too early to have a team in place.

Before you even think about making an offer on a home, make sure you have a real estate agent, a real estate attorney, and a mortgage broker who can help you walk through your purchase, especially if you're looking in a hot seller's market in New York City.

Long says most of the seller's markets in the city are outside of Manhattan.  StreetEasy is seeing a lot of demand in Queens around Jackson Heights and Elmhurst.

There's also a lot of interest in Brooklyn around Prospect Park: areas like Prospect Heights, Park Slope, and Kensington.

Long says you need to be more prepared going into those areas and know that what you're looking at may go quickly.

On the flip side, if you're looking for a buyer's market, head to Midtown Manhattan where there's a lot of new construction.

Long says, on average, apartments in Midtown spend more time on the market and have more price cuts while they're listed on StreetEasy, so they sell for a greater discount to their initial asking price.

If you're looking to buy for the first time and aren't sure where to start?  Think about what matters most to you.  Long says, first of all, think about the trade-offs you're willing to make to get into the perfect home for you.

Buying is a very personal decision so think about whether its important to have an extra bedroom or a shorter commute.

Then, form your housing budget.  The prevailing wisdom is that you should never spend more than 30-40% of your pay on your home.

But Long says people push past that all the time in New York City because it's such an expensive market.  Just remember, that 30-40% isn't just a mortgage payment. It also includes taxes and things like maintenance.

Right now a lot of people are concerned about mortgage rates rising, which is valid given we've just seen the Fed hike interest rates and we're expecting them to go up again this year.

Another thing to consider? Get pre-approved for a mortgage and lock in your rates ahead of time.

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