Be a Smart Home Buyer in a Seller’s Market
Let’s face it, when it comes to the real estate market today, it’s a sellers market. The demand for housing is up and the available inventory of homes is low. When a nice home hits the market, it sells fast and for top dollar. It’s great to be a seller in this type of market. If you are a buyer, how do you go about finding a great home at a reasonable price?
First Step: Check Your Credit
Long before you begin shopping for a home, you need to examine your credit report. You need to make sure that your credit report is squeaky clean and there are no mistakes that may affect your loan application. By law, you can receive one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major consumer reporting agencies. A better way to do this would be to request your free reports separately from a different company every four months (for example one from Experian, then four months later one from Equifax, then four months later one from TransUnion). That way you can monitor your credit for free across a complete year.
Banks and credit unions are a good place to start, but don’t forget to talk to mortgage brokers also. Having pre-approval will demonstrate to sellers that you are a serious buyer and that you are prepared to move forward with the buying process. The seller does not want to take their home off the market, only to have the deal fall through because you don’t qualify.
Be Ready to Move Quickly
You think that you have found the perfect house in a great neighborhood. It has almost every feature that you are searching for: an upgraded kitchen, nicely done bathrooms, maybe a home theater or a home office, and the right number of bedrooms. Don’t take forever to decide to make an offer. In a sellers’ market, homes can sell in a few days or a few hours from when they are listed on the MLS. Take too much time on a decision and someone else may “steal” the home out from under you.
Make a Competitive Offer
This is no time to make a lowball offer. If the house is really that nice, other buyers will also be considering it. If the asking price is in line with other comparable homes in the area, you should feel good about making a reasonable offer, close to the listing price. If your offer is too low, the seller may completely ignore it and not even return a counter offer.
Get the Assistance of a Buyer’s Agent
Don’t go it on your own. A sellers’ market doesn’t mean that every home that is for sale is over-priced and that there are few, if any, good deals out there. This is where the help of an experienced realtor can be invaluable. A buyer’s agent will know the market in the particular neighborhood you are considering. They can quickly determine if the price is reasonable and keep you from over spending for the home. And this is one of the very few times you can receive expert help without costing you a dime, the seller pays the realtors’ fees.