It seems a bit unbelievable to some homebuyers. After a few years of hearing about a real estate market where buyers were in the driver’s seat now buyers are hearing, "Sorry, that home is SOLD!"
That is the very market we are now in folks! There are still homes being listed every day. But with these phenomenally low interest rates (Did you ever think a 15 year mortgage would be UNDER 3%?!), there are many more homebuyers off of the fence and in the market. If you are a first time homebuyer and looking for a home in the $100K-150K range, you are not only battling against first time homebuyers but also investors to find a good deal. Investors have plans to fix up and resell or put a renter into the home. And since investors often pay with cash, there are no worries to the seller as to whether the home will appraise or the financing will fall through. It’s tough competition for an FHA first time buyer who wants the seller to pay closing costs.
So what’s a homebuyer to do?
Get organized. If you want to buy a home at a good price in this market, you need to have a plan.
Plan to Work with a REALTOR® This is not a market to go at it alone. Find a good, trusted professional who is willing to show homes as soon as they hit the market and sign a contract for buyer’s representation. In most cases, it will not cost you anything because the seller will pay the commission.
Plan to Get Pre-Approved for a Loan Without a pre-approval letter, you won’t be able to submit an offer. Most sellers won’t consider accepting a purchase agreement without a letter from a loan officer stating the buyer is qualified to purchase the home. Some bank owned properties only will accept specific types of financing so proactive buyers will be pre-approved for a loan.
Plan to Define Your Criteria Once pre-approved, you know what you can pay for a home so define all other aspects of your purchase including location, school district, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and garage stalls.
Plan to Get Set Up to Receive NEW Listings Call YOUR REALTOR® and ask to be set up to receive all new listings as soon as possible. This is one of the best perks of working with one agent, they know what you are looking for and will help you find it. I like to use a program called Listingbook so my buyers can leave any property related questions for me to answer on their favorite homes. This is a great way to weed out short sale listings that already have offers too. I review favorites and if there are any short sales with an offer in to the bank but still listed as active on the MLS, we can note it and move on.
Plan to Be Ready to See Homes ASAP The good ones are going fast in this market. If a property meets your criteria, you will need to see the home as quickly as you can.
Plan to Make a Quick Decision Many homes are in multiple offers after a day or two on the market. When a serious homebuyer sees a home that they are interested in, they have to make a quick decision and write up the purchase agreement as soon as possible.
Prepare for Multiple Offers In the first time homebuyer price range, I have seen multiple offers on almost every home I have written a transaction on this summer. Many homes are listed at low prices to encourage more than one offer. If the home appears to be an excellent value, plan to write your “highest and best” offer on it!
Persistence Pays! This summer I had a young couple looking for a starter home who wrote SIX offers before finding their dream home. They were persistent and finally realized their dream. Another young family wrote four offers. In a lower price point, it may take a few offers to get a home, but the reward is worth the effort!
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