Are you in the market for a new home? Fall can be a great time to find a deal, as many sellers may have been unsuccessful selling during the spring and summer, or may be motivated to sell due to an employment change or other life event.

Sellers may be willing to drop the price if their home has been on the market for more than a few months—especially if they’ve already purchased another home. Plus, the number of homes on the market usually experiences a slowdown in the winter, during which you might also be able to find a bargain.

No matter what time of year you decide to buy, ask yourself a few key questions before making an offer.

Have I done my research? Some advice is crucial regardless of the time of year. Decide on the features you most want to have in a home, the neighborhoods you prefer and how much you’re willing to spend each month on a mortgage. Some advice becomes even more important in the slower home-buying months: look into how long the home has been on the market and the price reductions during that time. Both give insight into how motivated a seller is to make a deal and may empower your negotiations.

Am I being realistic? Remember—no home is perfect. Make a list of priorities to use for evaluating each property and be careful to put timing in perspective. Being in your new home before the holidays is surely desirable, but it shouldn’t drive your decision or cloud your negotiations.

How much am I prepared to bid? Sizing up a house on a price-per-square-foot basis is a great equalizer. Housing markets tend to behave differently in the fall than in the hotter spring home-buying season. Consider reviewing the past few years’ fall pricing trends before deciding on your offer.

Have I talked to the sellers? If the sellers are willing to share information with you, they can be the best resource to learn about the community and the house. If you know why they’re selling (such as to be closer to their children’s new school district), it can help you understand how motivated they are and judge whether they might accept a lower offer.

Have I scheduled a home inspection? Always make sure that a home inspection is included in the contract. If an inspection finds any issues with the home, you can use those issues as a bargaining chip for lowering the price. In the fall, you have an opportunity to see the home in a sometimes messier season. Are the yard and gutters clogged with leaves? Has rain entered the home recently? Do you feel any drafts?

If you want a home with good renovation potential, focus on finding a home with a sound foundation, solid plumbing and good wiring. Having to fix any of those fundamentals can make the cost of a renovation skyrocket.

What are future plans for the area? A good real estate agent will be able to tell you about planned developments, including highways, schools, shopping centers and other amenities that could increase the home’s value down the road.

Looking for an especially good deal on a home takes time, commitment and know-how. Ask the right questions—and when you’re ready to buy your new home, we can help you with your mortgage