The Buffalo, New York housing market has grown increasingly competitive over the last several years, fueled by a decline in available housing stock and increasing real estate prices. In a newly-desirable housing market, first-time homebuyers still have many opportunities to find a home to call their own, but a little preparation is required.
Houses in the Buffalo market sell within an average of only 16 days and prices are up about 14% since last year, so buyers must be prepared to make an offer as soon as they find a home that suits their needs. This home buying guide is designed to support those in the market for a new home, including first-time homebuyers.
Assessing Your Needs
When creating your hierarchy of new-home needs, determine the importance of location for you and anyone with whom you’ll share your home.
Commuting in Buffalo
If commute time or easy access to the city’s amenities is a concern, know that Buffalo is the best city for commuters, with an average commute time clocking in at under 20 minutes, 22% shorter than the average commute elsewhere. So, unless a homebuyer is tethered to a school district, being flexible and considering emerging markets outside your target zip codes can increase your chance of finding a home.
Picking a neighborhood
Understanding the city’s neighborhoods is another essential location consideration. In Buffalo, lifestyles can vary between neighborhoods greatly, with highly walkable pockets of the city being more convenient to public transportation over the largely car-focused first-ring suburbs. We have three different ways for you to explore the city’s neighborhoods here. Visit Buffalo Niagara, the region’s tourism bureau created a helpful online guide to neighborhoods; it outlines each district’s amenities and vibe.
This map illustrates how the neighborhoods are configured geographically. You can also find HUNT’s snapshot of the housing market for popular areas below.
Hot Buffalo, NY Housing Markets
Choosing the right school
In Buffalo, family status is a significant factor for homebuyers due to the varying quality of public education from district to district. If you have school-age kids or intend to raise children in your new home, selecting a neighborhood may be best determined by first choosing a school district. Check out the most up-to-date school rankings online.
Identifying your non-negotiables
From garages and front porches to finished basements and open floor plans, ranking a list of the desired interior and exterior home features will help narrow down the homes they’ll visit and bid on. To create a hierarchy of needs, rank the items that cost the most to add to the home post-purchase at the top. For example, adding a driveway and garage to your dream home is more challenging than upgrading the kitchen appliances or HVAC, so the driveway and garage should rank higher on your non-negotiable list than the other two amenities.
Determining your budget
Now that you’ve selected potential neighborhoods and a list of non-negotiables, do some research. This will help you research the cost of the homes that meet your needs and allow you to adjust your budget or desires accordingly. Use our mortgage calculator to determine a budget that works with your finances. It’ll be helpful to gather as much information as you can about mortgage options before entering the market.
Make a decision based on the home’s asking price and how well it matches your wish list. While the asking price is a significant factor, a proposal to buy a home includes the price and terms. Sometimes, terms can equal thousands of dollars in additional value or costs.
Making an offer is an art; a great real estate agent can help strategize. In some markets, it may be suggested that buyers place their first offer at a specific percentage below asking. That is often not the case in Buffalo’s current housing market. If multiple buyers compete for a home, sellers may quickly receive full-price or “over-asking” offers. If demand in a homebuyer’s selected zip code is weaker, an offer below the asking price may prove to be a savvy move.
The closing process (sometimes called “settlement” or “escrow”) has evolved into a somewhat automated process thanks to technological advances. Closings bring together all involved in the real estate transaction. If you’re unfamiliar with the complexity of closing costs, HUNT offers this detailed look at the breakdown of closing costs.
Buyers typically have one last chance to walk the property confirming its condition hasn’t changed since the sale agreement was initially signed. At the closing, the paperwork, which includes the sale agreement and verifies every participant’s interest in the sale, has been prepared by closing agents, attorneys, title companies, and lenders. Buyers receive the title to the property, the lender has their loan added to public records, and the state government collects transfer taxes.
Home, Sweet Home
After closing is complete, a new homeowner can begin living the life they’ve envisioned throughout the buying process! To find a new life and a new home, contact HUNT today. With over 1,300 sales professionals and 40+ offices throughout Western and Upstate NY, trust HUNT to help you find your perfect property!