This may be a really good time to be in the housing market – if you are a seller, that is. There just aren’t enough homes on the market, so if you are selling right now, you may find yourself in a more favorable position. Multiple offers and bids over list price for some properties aren’t unusual these days.
But what if you’re a buyer – one of many out there in the trenches looking right now? With lots of competition from other buyers, how do you “survive” the house-hunting wars and, hopefully, land that home you’re after? While there are no guaranteed ways to succeed, here are a number of tips to help increase your chances of getting into a home of your own before long:
- Work with a real estate professional. There’s a myth among some novice homebuyers that it’s only the sellers who need a real estate professional. But that couldn’t be further from the truth, especially in a seller’s market. Having someone who knows the local market well, has experience in evaluating homes, knows how to successfully negotiate, and will be your advocate through the entire process from start to finish, is important. Take the time to interview several real estate professionals so that you can select the person that you believe is the most qualified to help you through the home buying process.
- Get prequalified for a mortgage. Getting prequalified lets you know how much home you can afford and it also shows sellers that you’re a serious buyer who is much more likely to be able to close escrow.
- Do your research. Although your real estate professional will provide lots of help in your home search, it’s important to do a little homework on your own up front. It will help the home-buying process if you know which areas you’d like to live in, what you can realistically afford, the type and size of home you’re after, the features you’d like, etc. Nearly all buyers start their search online, and a great place to begin is ColdwellBankerHomes.com.
- Be prepared to compromise. Everyone wants that big, gorgeous home in the best neighborhood but you may have to compromise a bit – especially when the market is competitive. This doesn’t mean settling for a home you dislike; it just means going after homes with the features that you really need rather than what you simply want. For example, if your preference is to be in a community with great schools you might take a smaller home, or perhaps one without a pool or a formal living room. Or you might decide to commute a little longer to work so as to find the right house at the right price.
- Make a strong offer. Work with your real estate professional to put together a strong offer for the home you’re after. You may also want to work with the seller on closing date and contingencies. Sellers often have their own preferences regarding when to close and if you’re flexible that may help put you in a better position as a buyer.
- Don’t wait too long. In a competitive real estate market, time is of the essence. If you spend too long making an offer on a home you like, it can give another buyer a chance to come in first with a strong offer. Sellers are usually motivated and want to act as quickly as possible. So when you find the right property, don’t waste time.
- Connect with the seller. If two offers are close, it may help your chances to try to personally connect with the seller. We’re not talking about become their BFF. Consider writing a sincere letter explaining how much you love their home including your hopes and dreams about living there one day – holiday gatherings, cooking meals together in the kitchen, or having barbecues in the yard with friends. Anything that helps personalize you and your offer may make a difference.
Although a seller’s market can be challenging for homebuyers, there are still opportunities out there for qualified buyers.