At Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc. (PRMI) we know Spring feels like the perfect time for a fresh start and a new home. But since many other home seekers feel the same way, you could be house hunting in a particularly competitive market.
Don’t worry—there are things you can do to make your house hunt easier and more successful—even in a seller’s market. Use these tips to find your way to a new home you love.
1. Get pre-approved with a local lender
Save yourself time and heartache by getting pre-approved for financing before you get too far into your house hunt.
Once you’re pre-approved with a local lender, it will be easier to focus your search on homes that are in your budget. Plus, a seller is much more likely to accept your offer if they can see that you’ve already got financing arranged with a nearby local organization they recognize and trust.
Working with a local lender also means you’ve got someone right there to answer questions or help you find other local specialists, whether you need a Realtor or home inspector.
Your local PRMI Loan Originator can help guide you through the mortgage process, answer your questions and recommend other local professionals. They may even be able to find homes for sale before other house hunters.
Note: Getting pre-approved for a loan requires it to go through the underwriting process. If you’re looking for a quicker solution, ask your lender about pre-qualification. Pre-qualification is less official than pre-approval, so it is a faster process.
2. Find a local real estate agent
House hunting in a competitive market takes work. Enlist the help of a local real estate agent who understands the area and the market.
Like Loan Originators, local agents have built relationships with other nearby professionals who can help if you need something during the homebuying process.
Your real estate agent can help you narrow your search, learn about a neighborhood, understand the current market and craft a competitive offer once you’ve found a home you love.
3. Determine must-haves, deal breakers, negotiables
If you’re buying in a competitive market, you don’t have a few days to debate the pros and cons of a house; you’ve got to be decisive and fast.
But since you’re making a huge, very personal purchase, you need to feel good about the decision you make.
The key to making a quick decision you feel good about is preparation. Before you look at houses, decide what things are must-haves, what things are negotiable and what things are deal breakers. If you’ve worked this out ahead of time, you won’t have to spend lots of time deciding whether or not a home is right for you.
Prioritize things that can’t be easily changed like location, square footage and number of bedrooms. There’s no point in buying a gorgeous house in a neighborhood you hate, but you can always spruce up a fixer-upper in the perfect location.
If there are low-to-medium cost items you can take care of later, put them on your list of negotiables. Fresh paint, new carpet, stylish lighting fixtures and modern appliances are all great perks, but be willing to give those up for a house that has your must-haves.
You can’t be too picky in a super competitive market, but there are some things that have to be deal breakers. This will vary from one person to the next, but may include an asking price that exceeds your budget, extensive water damage, insect infestations, major plumbing issues or outdated electrical work.
4. Make a competitive offer, quickly
If you know you like a home, make an offer as quickly as possible. Your Realtor and Loan Originator can guide you, but in general, if you’re shopping in a seller’s market you’ll need to meet or exceed the asking price. If possible, you may also want to consider increasing your down payment or putting forward more earnest money.
5. Strengthen your offer with non-monetary incentives
Money talks, but it’s not the only thing you have to make your offer more appealing. Consider offering other non-financial incentives.
Being flexible with your closing date can go a long way. Consider giving the seller a few extra days to move out. In fact, buyers in competitive markets may even let the sellers stay a few weeks rent free.
It’s relatively normal to ask the seller to make small repairs, add fresh paint or leave an appliance, but if you’re buying in a competitive market, limit contingencies to real issues and don’t ask for little favors.
A personalized offer letter
Homes are personal, so take a few minutes to include a personal note with your offer. It doesn’t have to be too long or intense, but a quick note with some compliments about the house, décor or landscaping can help you create a connection with the seller and improve the odds of your offer being accepted.