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Whether you're searching for your first home, upgrading from a starter house, or downsizing for retirement, you're preparing to jump into the real estate market. While buying a home is often a stressful process, house hunting during a seller’s market is not for the faint of heart. In a hot real estate market, multiple offers may flood in on homes only listed for a few hours. It can be overwhelming to compete with buyers putting in cash offers above the list price without even stepping foot in a property that’s for sale.
While you think it might be a good idea to wait until the market cools off, predictions are that we may not see this market cool down for 2-3 more years. This means that now may be a better time to make that home purchase than later. Our team has been very successful this year helping our clients find great homes at reasonable/market prices, we can likely help you. Don't be discouraged about the market, let us help you find your perfect home, there are still great opportunities even in a Seller’s market.
Let's take a look at what it takes to be successful in a Seller's market. How you prepare to put in an offer during a seller's market, actions to take when you find a home, and how to handle purchase offer rejections are all part of success.
If you want to "win" and get your purchase offer noticed, be organized and proactive. Here are key items to take care of if you want your bid to stand out in an aggressive market.
1. Clarify your housing needs vs. wants.
It’s time to get serious about the "must haves" in your home search. This doesn’t mean you should compromise on what’s most important to you. But the longer your list of requirements, the more it will restrict your search and the chances of buying a house in a limited market.
Pro tip? Once you figure out your needs, rank your list from most to least important. It might be difficult, but ranking your needs will help you make a faster decision when it comes time to put in an offer or bid higher when you’re facing stiff competition. If a house meets most of your needs - but not the most crucial need(s) - you might regret buying it.
2. Get your finances in order.
There are plenty of financial tasks to check off your list before you start shopping for a new home. Some of these will take time. So, the earlier you start preparing, the better.
3. Find a responsive and knowledgeable Realtor.
In a seller's market, you need an experienced Realtor who understands what you're looking for, communicates well, knows the area of your home search, and has the time to devote to finding you a home. Consider working with a full-time Realtor and seek recommendations from people you trust.
4. Tell family, friends, and colleagues at work that you’re looking for a new home.
When you're vying for a property in a hot market, take any help you can get! You may be able to buy a home through a word-of-mouth sale rather than having to compete with others.
5. Watch for new listings and stay in touch with your realtor.
Your realtor will contact you with the latest listings. But you can also look at houses for sale online on Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com. Clear your calendar when it’s time to view a place that’s for sale, and be ready to put in an offer immediately if you’re interested.
6. Put in a strong, clean offer.
Your realtor will likely encourage you to put in a full asking price offer (or close to it) on a well-priced home in a hot market. They may even suggest bidding over asking in some cases. There’s no doubt that the highest bid will generally be of most interest to a seller. But solid offers with few sellers’ contingencies or demands may also be noticed and could score the win. You may also decide to put down more earnest money or guarantee the home’s sale a specific amount over its appraisal to reflect your seriousness of the purchase. For example, if the purchase price of the home is $200,000 you would guarantee the appraisal up to a certain amount, say $10,000. So if the home appraises under $200,000 but at least $190,000, you will go through with the purchase of the home by paying the $10,000 difference in cash to the seller.
7. Consider contingencies carefully.
While you should never skip a home inspection contingency (unless you're prepared to deal with the results of that decision), you may decide to limit other contingencies you’ve planned for, such as financing, appraisal, or a review of HOA documents. If you add any contingencies, consider shortening the period for them to expire to help convince the sellers that they won’t impact the sale of their property.
8. Don’t make demands of the sellers.
Try not to ask for anything extra from the sellers in a hot real estate market. Focus on getting your offer accepted and be as flexible as you can to meet the seller's needs. You can always consider offering to purchase existing furnishings or appliances from the seller after acceptance of your purchase offer.
9. Include an offer letter.
While many sellers only care about accepting the highest offer, adding a personal touch to a strong bid may be enough to create an emotional connection with someone selling their home. You don’t need to write an essay (often brevity is better), but being honest about why you want to buy their home matters. Consider including what attracted you to their property, mention any personal touches you admire, and share how you plan to make memories in your new home.
10. Be ready for a bidding war.
In a seller's market, you’ll likely end up in a multiple offer situation at some point. Negotiations are a time of high emotions. Even though you may feel the temptation to bid higher, focus on sticking to your budget. If there’s some wiggle room in your offer, you may decide to add an escalation clause up to a predetermined limit. This helps you from being outbid when you're competing with other buyers.
11. Be patient.
While you may not like the cliché, you’re in a marathon - not a sprint. Unless you have to move fast, remember that more homes meeting your needs will be listed on the market at some point.
12. Be persistent.
Some people think of house shopping in a seller's market as their part-time job. While you won't be cashing any paychecks for the time you spend looking, receiving an accepted purchase offer will be worth your effort. Keep searching house listings and stay in close contact with your realtor. As long as the market remains hot, it's necessary to continue taking an active role in the home search process.
Portions were taken from an article written by Vicki Cook and Amy Blacklock.