Thank you Wall Street Journal for a helpful article on preparing for and persevering in the current seller’s market. The competition for houses in Atlanta’s low inventory environment is mainly focused on entry-level and first move up price ranges but this is good advice to anyone preparing to buy a home.
Have a Real Estate Agent who Does the Research and Knows the Area
Your agent will give you the necessary sales price information so that you will know a good value when you see it. By having access to sales prices of comparable houses in a client’s focus area, as well as listings that have expired or been withdrawn due to overpricing, I am able to give clients an estimated sales price range for the house they’ve found. Tax records are important research tools as well.
Get Pre-Qualified and Have Cash Saved
Don’t even think about embarking on your house search without being pre-qualified from your lender and having sufficient cash saved for a down payment, closing and moving expenses. I like to attach a pre-qualification letter with an offer to make it stronger and more appealing to the seller. A large down payment shows the seller that that you are a financially solid buyer.
Know the Maximum Amount You Are Willing to Pay and Be Ok with Losing the House if It Doesn’t Work Out
A house is an emotional purchase but this is, after all, a life-changing financial decision. Go over what your monthly payments will be with your lender; find a comfortable maximum, and have the discipline to stay with it. Also consider what you will do if the house doesn’t appraise for the contract sales price. If the seller is unwilling to renegotiate, you may have to decide if you are willing to kick in extra cash.
Know the Seller’s Ideal Closing Date
This may be very important to the seller. A good agent will know the seller’s ideal timetable. Your offer will be attractive if you are willing to be flexible on the closing date and possession.
Reach Out to the Seller on a Personal Level
I don’t always recommend this, but there are instances in which I have asked buyers to write a letter describing who they are and why they feel a connection to the home. It really can make a difference. I use this option very carefully. At a minimum, I work to establish a good rapport with the seller’s agent so that we have a cordial and open working relationship up front that will continue beyond the closing.
Be Ready to Drop Everything to Act Quickly
If you are prepared, and know the market you must be ready to act quickly. If you don’t believe this, you will learn after losing a couple of houses. My clients and I get instant emails when a new house that meets their parameters is listed, so we are both ready to get in the car and go!
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