The days of soaring home prices and bidding wars may not be over. While rising mortgage rates are expected to eventually dampen demand, the tight housing stock remains a challenge for today’s homebuyers.
According to one real estate agent, potential buyers may need to shake off their preconceived notions of buying a home to compete in this seller’s market.
“Buying a home isn’t what it used to be, and there are some new rules for buying a home,” Sam Salzwedel, a real estate agent from Tuscon, Arizona, told Realtor.com recently.
Read on to learn about Salzwedel’s new rules for buying a home in today’s competitive real estate market. When you’re ready to start buying a home, you can visit Credible to compare mortgage rates for free without hurting your credit score.
1. Get your mortgage financing in order before you shop
→ Old rule: “Find your dream home, then complete your mortgage paperwork.”
→ New rule: “Get a mortgage before you start looking.”
If you’ve found a home you like but don’t have a mortgage pre-approval letter on hand, it may be too late to make an offer. That’s because real estate is selling quickly and spending less time on the market than ever before. Homes listed for sale in March were 10 days faster than a year earlier, according to Realtor.com.
“When you get a loan, the house can disappear,” Salzwedel said.
Once you’re ready to start home shopping, it’s time to complete your mortgage financing. Sellers know you’re ready to buy when you have your mortgage lender’s pre-approval letter ready. You can start the home loan process on Credible.
2. Look for a home below your ideal price
→ Old rule: “Buy what you can afford.”
→ New rule: “Buy less than you can afford.”
Despite signs of falling demand as mortgage rates rise, homes are still selling well above their listing prices. According to real estate brokerage Redfin, about half of the homes sold in March were above the list price.
“There’s a good chance that everything you see will sell for more than the list price, so you might want to give yourself a little wiggle room to bid more than the list price,” Salzwedel said.
Do your research to determine how much home you can afford, then ask your real estate agent to show you homes below your maximum purchase price. You can also use Credible’s mortgage calculator to estimate your monthly payment.
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3. Be prepared to make an offer on the same day as your viewing
→ Old rule: “Look at the property and take a day or two to decide if you want an offer.”
→ New rule: “If you see something you like, make a smart, competitive offer as soon as possible.”
Buying a home can be the biggest purchase of your life, and you could end up living in your next home for a decade or more. Because buying a home is such an important milestone, it’s important not to make hasty decisions.
But with homes spending less and less time on the market, today’s homebuyers may not have the luxury of spending a few days thinking about things. To make sure you’re buying the right home, not just any home, give your real estate agent a detailed list of your must-haves and deal breakers. If possible, try to keep your deposit as low as possible and don’t give up on home inspections.
4. Submit your most competitive offer first
→ Old rule: “Bid below the asking price and wait for the seller to reject your offer.”
→ New rule: “Set your big numbers from the start.”
In a competitive real estate market, sellers may receive multiple offers within days of selling a property. If you bid below the list price, they can simply move on to the next bid.
“Sellers don’t make a lot of counter-offers,” Salzwedel said. “They don’t have to because buyers are often making higher offers than sellers are expecting.”
If the property is not appraised at the agreed purchase price, some aggressive buyers may even offer cash to cover the difference. But for many first-time homebuyers, the prospect of investing more money up front, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, may not be realistic.
Discuss your options with your real estate agent to provide the most competitive offer for your situation without going outside your financial comfort zone. You can differentiate your offer by being flexible about the deadline, rather than making an offer that exceeds the home’s appraised value.
5. Don’t lose hope if your offer isn’t accepted
→ Old rule: “Hope to buy a house after you make an offer or two.”
→ New rule: “You may be rejected multiple times.”
Trying to make the best offer for your dream home can be daunting, only to be overbid by cash buyers or those willing to give up viewing or appraisals. At the end of the day, you make a purchase. Sellers will usually choose the offer that is most financially beneficial to them, even if it’s not yours.
“The new normal is dealing with rejection,” Salzwedel said.
That doesn’t mean you have to settle for less than you want. Instead, it means you may need to be patient to find the perfect home for you. It’s important to look at multiple lenders when you’re looking for the best mortgage deal possible. You can compare current lender rates in the table below and visit Credible to see mortgage deals tailored just for you.