Buying a home always comes with stress, but this market is enough to make your hair fall out. People are purchasing homes within minutes of them hitting the market, sometimes sight unseen, with no contingencies. Many times, there are dozens of offers within hours – for thousands over asking price. If you’ve lost out on one or more homes you loved, and it’s making you crazy, you’re not alone. Before you abandon your search, take our tried-and-true advice for staying sane in a crazy housing market.
If you don’t follow any other tips, we implore you to follow our No. 1 rule:
Don’t Get Attached
It’s a fickle market, and falling in love with a house is probably going to end with your heart getting broken. Try your best to keep an emotional distance. It will help you handle not getting the home, and deter you from making a desperate, unwise offer that’s above your budget.
In this cuckoo market, it will probably take longer than normal to secure a deal. Putting deadlines on your homebuying plans will keep you up at night and stressed out during the day. Mentally prepare yourself for looking at more than a few houses and the possibility of making, and losing, several offers. Don’t start freaking out and making offers you can’t afford just to move the process forward.
Work With a Savvy Real Estate Agent
A knowledgeable, experienced agent is important in any market, but they are especially critical in the rapid-fire environment going on right now. Before choosing one, make sure they understand the neighborhoods you’re interested in. Ask how many homes they’ve sold in the last year and how long they’ve been in real estate in this area. Also make sure they’re responsive and available to communicate your offers to the sellers if you find a home you want to buy. Throughout the process, your agent will be able to keep you calm and focused, so you can reach a smart decision.
Know What You Want
This market demands decisiveness. If you hem haw around trying to decide if you like a house, it’s most likely going to be sold before you even get a bid submitted. Think about your absolute must-haves and what you cannot stand, along with your budget range and the areas of town you like. If a home hits the market that meets these standards, you’ll be ready to move quickly if you’ve already thought this through. Plus, it takes lots of pressure off you when you’re trying to decide in the moment.
Devote Significant Time to the Process
If you expect to only look at homes on the weekends, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Ask your real estate agent to send you emails as soon as homes in your price range hit the market to be one of the first to look them over. In a market that’s this flaming hot, you need to work your home search with as much free time as you can scrape together to be present for the homes you might want to buy.
Prepare to Offer Above Asking Price
The days of undercutting the asking price are long gone. Today, it’s more likely a home will sell for several thousand dollars over asking. Don’t waste your time putting in a low bid, because you’re not going to get the home if you do. Offer the full asking price – or more – to compete with the numerous other buyers champing at the bit to land a home of their own, too.
Avoid Homes Listed at the Top of Your Budget
Since we know many of the homes you look at will end up selling over asking price, it makes sense to avoid the homes at the top of your budget. Looking at these properties raises your expectations and, when your offer isn’t accepted, leads to crushing disappointment. Aim for viewing houses in the middle of your budget, so you can afford to bid above asking if needed.
Take Actions to Make Yourself More Competitive
There are ways you can stack the deck against the other buyers to make yourself look better to the sellers. Keep your credit score high so there won’t be any issues with securing a loan. In fact, go ahead and talk to a mortgage originator and get pre-approved. Chances are good that if you wait to do this until you find the home you want to buy, the sellers will pick someone else who has gotten pre-approved. After all, the last thing a seller wants to happen is for the deal to fall through because a buyer can’t get financing.
This raging housing market is not for the fainthearted buyer. Keep your sanity AND land the house you want with a healthy helping of patience, a smart real estate agent, and some reasonable expectations. When you’re decorating your new home a few months down the road, you’ll forget all about the hurdles you had to clear to get there.