The National Association of REALTORS® has announced that there's a housing supply shortage. Homes are selling quickly and home prices are starting to inch up again. It's becoming a seller's market in many areas.
Any time the market changes, it's time to change strategies. During a buyer's market, buyers have the upper hand and can make more demands to sellers over their homes' price and condition. During a sellers' market, buyers concede the upper hand to sellers and are more willing to accept higher prices and terms.
When homes are in short supply, buyers don't have the luxury of taking their time, teasing sellers with lowball offers, demanding that every little thing be fixed, and shopping for homes with multiple real estate agents. Do these five steps instead.
Make a good first impression. Not only do you need to impress sellers, you need to impress real estate agents. Hire one agent and let him or her profile your needs to the marketplace. Be specific about your must-haves so you don't waste your agent's and your time viewing homes that lack what you want most. When you find the home you want, send the seller a letter along with your offer outlining why you love the home.
Get preapproved by a lender. Not only will you know how much home you can buy, you'll be ready to make an offer quickly. Your real estate agent can include the fact that you're financially preapproved by your lender in with the offer, which will carry weight with the seller.
Shop within your price range. In a seller's market, it's wise to shop for homes within or slightly below your price range. This will give you more room to make full-price offers or above in case the home you want is in a bidding war with other buyers. You'll be able to pay your own closing costs. Trying to buy a home out of your reach during a seller's market will only cause you and your agent frustration.
Be flexible. No home is perfect. To get more home for your money, you might shop for an older home that needs renovation. Try to look past ugly wallpaper and stained carpet and visualize the home with more attractive finishes. You may be able to get more living space in an established neighborhood than with a newer home that is priced higher for similar square footage.
Be ready. Be ready to see a new listing at a moment's notice. Be ready to make an offer when you believe this is the right home for your household. Once a seller has accepted your offer, proceed as if you're in a normal market. Set a reasonable closing date that accommodates the seller as much as possible. Confirm the offer with your lender. Schedule the inspections you'll need and don't nitpick the seller over small things.
Whether you're in a buyer's market or a seller's market, you should feel good about the home you choose, the deal you make, and the courteous way you treated all parties to the transaction.