In today’s real estate market, having all of your ‘ducks in a row’ is essential to be a competitive buyer. With low inventory and homes flying off the market before they’re even publicly listed, it’s critical to jump into the homebuying game ready to play. This is no time for a casual home search – right now, it’s important to be ready to move when the opportunity strikes! Fortunately, by doing a bit of prep work, you can prove you are a competitive buyer and hopefully find the perfect home for your needs. Here are some of the best ways you can ensure you’ll be viewed as an attractive buyer in this competitive market.
1. Get Pre-Qualified By a Local Lender
It’s essential to begin working with a lender early in the process, as he or she can offer tips and advice on saving money, budgeting, and understanding the true costs of homeownership. Obtaining a pre-qualification from a lender not only helps the home buying process move more quickly, but it paints a realistic picture of how much home you can afford. Your lender can also offer guidance on improving your financial situation to help you save more toward your down payment and provide tips for tackling your credit card debt to lower your debt-to-income ratio. The more you can do upfront to improve your finances, the more competitive you’ll be in the housing market. Having a pre-qualification prior to house hunting is essential to ensure you are prepared to make an offer quickly.
2. Find a Good Real Estate Agent
Having someone in your corner fighting for you is especially important in this competitive market. A great real estate agent is going to keep a pulse on inventory and alert you right away when a home that meets your criteria comes on the market. Real estate agents know how crazy the market is right now, and because of that, most of them are jumping through hoops and doing all that it takes to help their buyers get the home of their dreams. Some agents will even research off-market listings and contact brokers to get the scoop on homes before they officially hit the market!
3. Determine Your Budget and Needs
Since inventory is in short supply, being able to move quickly is key. Before you get too far into the home buying process, it’s a good idea to determine your overall budget and what type of home you’re looking for – including the size, location, style, etc. While you may be pre-qualified for a certain amount, you should talk to your lender about what a comfortable monthly payment looks like for your specific needs, and talk to your agent about what compromises you might need to make to meet that budget. Narrowing your search only to homes that meet your criteria will prevent you from wasting too much time touring homes that are not going to meet your needs.
4. Be Prepared for Competition
You should always go into the home buying process with an open mind, but especially right now in an intensely competitive market. Know what you’re looking for in a home, but perhaps be willing to compromise on certain features that can be updated or improved upon while living in the home. It’s also important to be flexible, as you may need to drop everything and run to a showing as soon as a home hits the market or take an urgent call from your agent about making an offer on a home.
5. Have a Plan
Similar to having an open mind, also be sure to have a plan in place. You’ll need to have your pre-qualification ready and understand how much down payment and out-of-pocket expenses you’ll be expected to shell out at closing. It’s also important to discuss how much additional cash you’re willing to part with to outbid other buyers in the event of a multi-offer scenario. It’s not uncommon to place an offer over the asking price in the current market, but it’s also a good idea to determine a stopping point if bids start to get out of hand. Your agent and lender are both great resources and are there to help you make a smart financial decision when it comes to purchasing a home. There are also many grant opportunities available that can assist qualified buyers with down payment and closing costs – talk to your lender about this competitive advantage. Additionally, having a flexible closing schedule that fits the sellers’ needs could give you an edge up over your competition.
When it comes to home buying, C&F Mortgage is focused on you every step of the way. Our local industry experts are here to walk you through the process from start to finish and help you fulfill your homeownership dreams!