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Being a Home Buyer in a Seller’s Market

"Being a Home Buyer in a Seller's Market" by Nathaniel Birdsong

Written by Nathaniel Birdsong, Realty One Broker-In-Charge

It’s officially a seller’s market in the Triad for the first time in 10 years. There are many seasoned agents who are great at their jobs who have not experienced the current market environment. So while everyone is excited to be a seller what happens to you if you need to BUY a home right now?

Buying a home in a seller’s market can be a big struggle. You find there are far fewer options and the good options you want disappear quickly, often before you even get a chance to see them. Sometimes when you do, they already have offers coming in. Here are some strategies you can use to make your buying experience more enjoyable when your options are slim:

Be prepared: Most agents will have you work on pre-approval prior to looking at homes. Now that is more important than ever. When you find the right home you need to be prepared to act quickly. That means having mortgage pre-approval in place and a lender that is available to draft a pre-approval letter for your agent as soon as needed. Beyond that, you need to be mentally prepared to make the purchase. Understand while you are out viewing homes that you will likely have to make quick decisions. Many buyers like to see homes and be able to think about them for a few days before moving forward, but the current market doesn’t allow that. Know what you need before you go look and be ready to decide on the spot if possible.

Search a little under your price range: In a buyer’s market it is common to search a little above your price range because you can reasonably expect to negotiate a seller down on their price. The opposite will be true in today’s environment. It’s best to search $5,000 – $10,000 BELOW your budget so you can afford to win a bidding war if you find the right home and run into competition.

Be patient and search smart: If you aren’t on a strict timeline, be patient and understand new homes will hit the market every day. A good agent should be able to create automated searches that will notify you both instantly when a good option is listed. This one step alone can take some of the frustration out of constantly searching websites, only to find there is nothing you haven’t already seen. The other advantage of having an agent assist with search tools is they will be the more accurate. Syndication websites can take longer to show the newest inventory (usually the day after it actually hit the market).

Allow a little room for compromise: If you are searching common options that everyone wants you will be up against every other buyer struggling with low inventory. Look at things like granite counter tops or all wood floors and consider if they are optional to you as something you can update on your own down the road. The homes that have great cosmetic finishes will have the most competition. If a seller hasn’t been diligent in preparing their home that may be a great opportunity for you. Most buyers will over-estimate how much money or effort it takes to make some of those updates on their own and miss out on an otherwise good opportunity.

Consider a larger scale renovation project: Talk to your lender or agent about a renovation loan option for your home search. There are programs in place that allow you to purchase old, outdated, or foreclosed homes and have the cost of renovations built into your loan. You don’t have to spend any money out of pocket and get to select the finishes to the home yourself, customizing it to be exactly what you want.

Hire the right agent: As always, the best thing you can do to make the buying process easier is to hire the right agent. A great buyer’s agent will help you find to right option for you and make the process far less frustrating. We have many dedicated agents who are ready to help you!