- Get a mortgage pre-approval.
Before you start searching for a home getting a mortgage pre-qualification is a must. A pre-approval is an even smarter choice. Not just in a seller’s market. There is a difference between a pre-qualification vs. a pre-approval. With a pre-approval you have given your lender everything they need in order to ensure that you qualify for a loan, and for the amount you have requested. In a seller’s market, you want to make sure that you have a flexible lender. If you decide to write-up an offer at 7:00 pm, you or your real estate agent will need to get in touch with them to get the pre-approval letter for the price you want to offer. Submitting a pre-approval letter with your offer can really help. It let’s the home seller know you have been actively working to obtain a home loan.
- Trust your realtor.
In a seller’s market, you need to know as much as possible when you sit down to write-up an offer to the seller. Choosing the right agent to represent you is a must. When it is a seller’s market, your real estate agent will know to ask the seller’s agent what kind of activity there has been on the home. That way when you go to the appointment to see the home, you have an idea if it is a potential multiple offer situation. If you are absolutely in love with the home and want to make an offer, your real estate agent should be able to guide you through making the best decisions for your offer. In a seller’s market, you do not want to make a low-ball offer on a hot-home priced right.
- Do your research ahead of time.
If you know the type of home you are looking for, or have specific neighborhoods you would like to move to, it’s a good idea to do your research ahead of time. Your real estate agent can work with you on finding the homes that have sold recently in the areas you are looking at. This will give you a head start on knowing what homes are selling for in that area, and will guide you to what price to offer. Do a drive by at different times of the day to make sure the neighborhoods you like are what you want. A quiet street during the day may be the party place at night.
- Separate your needs from your wants.
When buying in a seller’s market, you will find that you may have to forego some of your wants, and focus on just the needs. You may have to compromise on the location, amenities, or condition of the home. Have a checklist of your needs, and refer to it whenever a new home comes on market. If you are able to check off all the needs, make the appointment to see the home as soon as possible.
- Stay within your budget.
In a seller’s market, it is not the time to think you can make low-ball offers and get what you want. Don’t look at homes out of your price range in hopes that the seller will drop their price to your budget price. When homes are selling fast, you have to expect that you will probably need to offer full-price. You may even need to go above asking price when there is a bidding war.
- Be flexible on timing.
If you can find out why the seller is moving it can help you determine what kind of closing date to offer. There may be a seller that needs to move in a hurry. The sooner you can close, the sooner the seller can move on. Another situation may be the seller needs extra time to move out. They might be waiting on their new-construction home to be finished. or the home that they have agreed to purchase is taking longer to close. Being flexible will give you bonus points if other buyers are submitting offers. Another option would be to close on the home, but allow the sellers to rent the home back from you for a few weeks or a month.
- Offer more cash up front.
When making an offer earnest money almost always comes into play. In a seller’s market offering more earnest money can show the seller the height of your interest. It may also turn out that your earnest money deposit could be the deciding factor. With the numerous offers a seller could receive in a seller’s market, that deposit might be the only difference. If your earnest money is more than your competition you have a higher chance of getting your offer accepted. Are you making a large down payment? Make sure that the seller knows that. The more cash you are working with the stronger you appear.
- Get personal with the home seller.
If you want to win over the home seller; include some emotion. Write up a personal letter to the seller to include with your offer. Flatter the seller by complimenting them on how well they have kept their yard maintained. Or that they have an eye for color choice and decorating. Let the seller’s know how much you love the home and why you can see yourself living there. Be sure to be nice, and don’t whine.
- Look for the potential in every home.
Although, you may not be able to change a home’s layout, you can change many other things about the home. In a seller’s market, the homes that are priced right and in mint condition will go quickly. However, there are other homes that are sitting on the market waiting for the right home buyer to come along. They may be sitting there due to being over-priced, or they are sitting there because they look drab. As a home buyer, look for the potential and consider a fixer-upper. You can paint walls, add new flooring, change out fixtures, and change the landscaping. Many homeowners are even painting the old cabinets to get an updated new look. If you can see the potential that others don’t, then chances are, you won’t have to bid against other buyers.
- Keep in mind there is a time for due diligence.
Many home buyers, especially first-time home buyers, are sometimes hesitant to make an offer on a home. They think they need to know everything about the home before making the offer. If when you walk-through and absolutely love it, don’t hesitate to make that offer. After the home seller and you come to terms, then you have a due diligence period to work with. The due diligence is a time when you can do a home inspections, check utility costs, boundaries, square feet, and many, many other things. The due diligence period is typically around two weeks, starting from when you write the offer. If you find there is something that concerns you, you can cancel the contract. As long as you cancel the contract before the due diligence deadline you will get your earnest money back.
- Don’t buy a house you don’t love.
Just because it has been difficult to win the bidding war on a home or two in a seller’s market, doesn’t mean that you should settle. Although you are willing to compromise on those wants you hoped for, that doesn’t mean that you should settle on a home you absolutely don’t really like. Buying a home is a big deal. Unless you have put a big chunk of a down payment on the home, you may have to live there for a time before you have built some equity up. When doing 100% financing, you most likely will have borrowed up to the max of the home’s value. Remember, there are costs to selling your home.
- Get creative in a sellers’ market.
If you are having a difficult time finding a home you love then get creative. Your real estate agent can help you with this. Be on the look out for homes listed for sale by owner. I have been working with quite a few for sale by owners due to lack of inventory on the MLS. You may have to drive the streets, but they also list their homes for sale on local websites, and national websites like Zillow. Some also still use the good ‘ole newspaper to advertise. You don’t have to stop there. Your real estate agent can search expired listings and find out if the owner is still interested in selling if the right buyer came along. Just remember, your real estate agent is there to represent you. Let them do the calling and talking for you. Otherwise, you may compromise your buying power.