“Low inventory is the DC area housing market’s biggest concern”- The Washington Post Truth. The spring market truly feels like a race to the finish line. Our proximity to DC places a huge amount of competition within the small hub of commutability in our region. In other words, everyone is trying to buy in the same area at the same time. Much like our traffic – there is a real estate bottleneck for certain schools and neighborhoods. Keep in mind not all markets are as competitive as others- several components will make up the pace of the market. School rankings, time of year, marketing done by the listing agent, proximity to DC, and inventory. The more desirable all of those are, the faster a home will go under contract. So how can you get a win? How do you make your offer stand out? First and foremost you need to get a good realtor! Your realtor should be able to at least get you a seat at the negotiation table, if you don’t have a realtor who really cares and is mailing it in- you don’t stand a chance.
I have outlined 5 items below that you can do to get ready for these conditions:
1. Spend the time getting prepared. The first step for all home buyers is to get pre-approved and create your monthly budget. Knowing your ideal price point isn’t the most exciting part of finding your home, but it is the most important. Working with a good lender makes the process of purchasing a home so much easier, so make sure you find someone who is qualified and available to walk you through the process.
2. Know what you are looking for in a home.You cannot go in the market in our area cold. Spend the time narrowing down your must have’s, would like’s, and non-negotiable items. This create’s the starting point of finding your home. Marrying these items to your budget will create the available listings that your realtor can send you for review. Now your ready to start checking out these properties and further narrowing what you like/dislike in a home. A trick I sometimes use for a low inventory market is to have my clients review inventory from about a year back, selecting homes they would have purchased or are excited about. This helps me to find a layout and esthetic that will work for my clients as I am out previewing.
3. Review strategic options with your Realtor. A huge part of my job is to manage expectations so my clients aren’t blindsided. If we are considering submitting an offer, there are several ways in which we can make ourselves more competitive. I like to review this up front with my clients, and let them select how aggressive we make the offer. Having all of the options up front puts my clients at ease. They have time to digest all the information and make an informed choice. Buyers that are new to our market sometimes think there will be a lot of back in forth, but if there are multiple offers on one property it’s often best and final up front.
4. Understand your budget/limitations- and be ok with that! I always keep our focus on the financial investment- to make sure it aligns with my clients goals. Everyone has a point at which they have to walk away. Knowing this and accepting it can help guard against emotions guiding the transaction. Some deals can get out of hand with risk and price point, and if it becomes a bad deal- it’s time to walk away.
5. Trust the process. This is probably the hardest part. Losing a house can be a shock, and very emotional for buyers. Even though this is a financial decision, most people envision themselves in the home before making an offer. All I can say here is that what is meant to be will happen. Very often a buyer has to loose a house in order to find out what really matters to them. Another house will come along, and often time is a better fit for the client.
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