10 Tips on Buying a Home While There’s Low Inventory
Photo credit: Mark Moz
Get used to the low or no inventory
Home buyers are finding that the housing market continues to suffer from low inventory and this is putting roadblocks in front of strong buyer demand. The National Association of REALTORS’ recent pending home sales report shows that fall sales have leveled off as buyers scramble to find a decreasing amount of available homes for sale in addition to fast-rising prices in some markets.
Existing-sales are projected to expand in 2016, but with inventory challenges and rising affordability issues from mortgage rates and rising prices, sales are only expected to cap at around 3 percent (5.45 million).
Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic, said in their latest Home Price Index report, “Many markets have experienced a low inventory of homes for sale along with strong buyer demand, which is sustaining upward pressure on home prices. These conditions are likely to persist as we enter 2016.”
10 tips to lock down your dream home when the inventory is low
- Get pre-approved- This is past getting pre-qualified. A pre-qualification is when a lender discusses a buyer’s credit, income and assets with them. A pre-approval is when a lender actually has run a buyer’s credit and verifies their income and assets, this is considered a solid start to the home-buying process.
- Organize your finances- Know beforehand how much house you can afford, check and repair your credit, do not make any major purchases, have a down-payment amount available. This becomes important during the underwriting process when a new large debt or an unforeseen monthly expense can change your loan-to-debt ratio and can potentially derail a contract.
- Hire a real estate professional- A good agent will help you to not only locate a property, but will advise you on the status of the current market, assist you in attaining as many of your needs as possible while dealing with the realities of the market place and/or financial constraints. Agents also handle the ins and outs of negotiations, which includes preparing all the necessary forms when making an offer and/or counteroffer.
- Make sure you are available- Be accessible and prepared to make fast decisions. Respond quickly to questions about your offer. Indecisiveness or not being available can make you miss a potentially good deal.
- Home features you ‘must have’ vs. ‘great-to-have’ features- Determine which features are required to make the deal as opposed to those that you’d like, but are not required to make the deal happen. This helps make the search and offer process smoother.
- Contingencies- Determine what contingencies you are willing to eliminate from your offer. This could help you remain competitive with other potential buyers.
- Money speaks louder- Make your best offer up front; this may be your only chance to negotiate further. Alivia Miller, a REALTOR with PEMCO Realty’s Atlanta office says, “If you’re looking to purchase in an area where inventory is low, you should be prepared to give a full price offer.”
- Check for ‘withdrawn’ and ‘expired’ listings- a good agent would search the MLS for past listings that failed to sell. Many of these didn’t sell because they were deemed overpriced at the time. If your agent were to send a letter to the owner expressing your interest in the property and that you’re serious, you may get a response.
- Search rental listings- Don’t overlook these listings. The owner may have had to move because of a job transfer or other life change and didn’t have time to list it for sale. Go see the home and if you like it, ask the owner if he or she would be open to selling.
- Don’t run from overpriced listings- After about six weeks in some markets, overpriced homes curb appeal fades, weeds grow, and the seller may not clean it as often, which will keep buyers away. This can be an opportunity to make an appearance during this time of inactivity. Most buyers won’t list their home at a lower price, but would sell it at a lower price. It would be better to go in with an offer before the first price reduction because competition will increase when other buyers take notice of a price reduction.
Written by: Ari Meier