With housing inventory down 40% or more from two years ago, purchasing a house has become much more competitive. To land the home of your dreams you have to be savvy, creative and well-educated about your local housing market. This begs the question, how do you beat other buyers to the property you want? Here are some methods to consider.
A fundamental part of buying your dream home is knowing the difference between what you need and what you can live without. Real estate brokers often advise their clients to come up with a wish list of everything you want in a home. But it’s also helpful to be realistic and make a list of things you can and cannot live without. A four bedroom house might be nice, but if you can manage with just three, that’s one less bedroom you’ll have to clean or pay for. You should also consider how long you plan to live in the home and your future needs, especially if you plan to start a family. Plan to buy a home to accommodate a growing family for five to seven years ahead.
Another way to beat other buyers to the property you want is to get pre-approved for a loan rather than pre-qualified. When you get pre-approved for a loan, you know the exact amount you can borrow. A pre-approval letter shoes potential sellers you are a serious buyer and have the funds to go through with purchasing the home. While there are investors who will offer to buy the same house for cash, your pre-approval letter is the next best thing to an all-cash offer.
Knowing the neighborhood where you plan to buy a home is essential as well. Relying on real estate agents for a home search in the multiple listing service is not the best way to find the right neighborhood. You’ll want to thoroughly research a location so you can determine whether or not the neighborhood offers the amenities that you prefer. When you know a neighborhood well and like it’s amenities, you’re better prepared to move quickly when the right home goes up for sale.
When it comes to a competitive housing market, it helps to be in the know and be ready to go. A good real estate agent will notify you right away when a house that matches your criteria shows up in their listings. But not always. After all, you probably aren’t their only client. This is why many savvy buyers who found their dream home set up mobile alerts with several consumer real estate listing sites and hit the refresh button frequently throughout the work day. When the house you’ve been watching for comes on the market, you’re ready to go.
It never hurts to make yourself stand apart from the competition. Attaching a personal letter to your offer that tells a little bit about your family and why you want the house can make a big difference to the seller. In some cases it could beat out all-cash offers. There’s something to be said when the seller sees that the home will go to a good family who can not only afford it but will also take care of it.
The last thing a seller wants is a lowball offer and no one wants to spend a lot of time going back and forth either. Especially since the seller could receive a higher offer and take it. In a competitive housing market it’s best to make an offer that’s close to or even above the list price. It should be an offer you feel good about and one you where the seller is more likely to come back with a stronger counteroffer.
Finally, do your best to avoid adding any stipulations, requirements or requests for personal property in your offer. When you include add-ons it complicates things. When it comes to comparing offers, it’s easier for the seller is to seek offers that are cleaner and more clear-cut. You can always talk to your real estate agent about items that can be negotiated after the offer is accepted.