It’s the wild west and you have to shoot your best shot if you want a chance at your dream house!
I’m in the position where I am on both sides of the fence, trying to simultaneously buy and sell a house out in the wild. My experience has *so far* been better than my previous house buying experiences but that’s because you live and you learn. I’d venture to say it’s a bit unusual to be 26 and finding yourself purchasing a house for the third time. This time I’m staying- I swear!
This time it will be the hardest goodbye from a house yet. We truly loved this house. The only reason for moving is we need more space to accommodate my mom, who has generously moved across the country to be near Shiloh and provide us with childcare while I’m at work. Our home is located right next to a wonderful school with a spacious park literally behind our backyard wall- so no neighbors behind us! The inside is clean and my cabinet paint job brought new life to several rooms. I really didn’t intend to leave this place. But here we are.
The search for a house can be hard enough. Finding stuff that checks all your boxes is a monotonous task and even after all of that, right now there is a good chance you’re going to lose out a couple times.
It’s causing a huge buyer fatigue. I successfully won a mini-bid war and am under contract for what will hopefully be a great home to raise our family in. Here are the musts for getting a house right now:
You need a good realtor
Before you even get out of the gate, you need a good realtor. Searching with Zillow alone can be fun but getting access to an MLS portal is the only way to truly stay updated with what’s on the market. Zillow can take days to update a status from active to pending. As we speak, the house that has been under contract with me since Sunday still (on Thursday) says active on Zillow.
That’s of course not the only reason to make sure you have a good realtor. If you realtor doesn’t immediately ask you about the floorplan, city, price range, housing features that you want, then switch. You don’t have time for looking at stuff that you clearly aren’t interested in.
When it comes time to be looking at houses, your realtor should be able to also find you a house or two to add to your list- or at least offer. They also need to be quick booking those showing times and if they are reallllyyyy good, they are going to make the order you visit them in make sense- either by distance/value/interest etc.
Find a house you like at an open house? Better hope your realtor is available ( and actually, you should tell them you are going ahead of time so they can be ready) so you can write an offer quickly.
Most importantly, you want a realtor who is knowledgeable and has your best interest at heart. There is SO much paperwork with home buying. Get someone that can explain it all in a way you understand before you sign anything. If your realtor cares about their clients, they will make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into and they will fight to get your deal through.
We have been so lucky to find Lisa O’Connell at ELO Team. She’s so organized, flexible, knowledgeable and has helped us through this process multiple times now. She knows our style and has been working our around our baby’s schedule without us having to ask. When it came time to act quickly on a house- she was ON IT. Lots of phone calls to the other realtor to feel out a good deal. She talked us through our options when it came time to counter-offer and outlined what a strong offer would look like. In the end- it got our offer accepted.
Note: Many realtors offer incentives for loyalty. If you have used a realtor before and liked them, GO BACK! Loyalty means a lot in that business.
You need to actually research
Don’t waste your time. Do the research. What’s important to you in a home? What do you need close by? You might think you want to live in one area because it’s popular but it turn out, what you want from your home isn’t there. Find out what you want and then narrow down the neighborhood- when you have the option to be choosey.
When it’s getting close to picking THE house, check out if there is a lot of street activity, loud noises during the night, etc. Do drive bys! It’s not weird as long as you’re not sitting in the driveway or driving past multiple times. Where you will be making life memories is worth your research time.
Get used to reading ALL of the listing info
It’s there, read it! How much are the taxes each year? WHEN WAS IT BUILT? (There are lots of old houses here! Be prepared for things to come up on the inspection for those.) Don’t assume the appliances stay- check! Have a child? Check the school district.
Don’t be afraid to ask your agent about something on the listing info you don’t understand. In the case if buying a home, always ask and risk looking stupid then not asking and (quite literally) paying for it later.
You need to be persistently checking
Buyers fatigue is very real. Don’t lose hope. Keep looking. Right now there are new listing every single day and just as many (or more) are selling. If you are persistent then you are missing the opportunity to land your dream home or really any home at all in this market!
Promptly request a showing
Promptly request your showing if you think a house is too good to be true. If it’s not too good to be true- it won’t be available next week. As a seller, My house listed and in one day I had almost a full day of showings. Turned out most were investment firms. They were ready to swoop in and buy the house, coming in with offers over asking price. You can see how it’s been a struggle for the average Joe to get a house. Do not hesitate when you see something with potential.
Ask the seller’s realtor what it will take for the seller to accept an offer
If you are lucky enough to swing into an open house, you’ll have a chance to talk to the seller’s realtor directly. This is your chance to play the game a bit and see if the realtor is able to help you out and say what their client is looking for out of the offer. Now you have a chance to customize an offer they can’t refuse.
Clearly communicate with your realtor BEFORE going to an open house alone
If you’re serious about getting a house in this market, you should be in constant communication with your realtor with all things house. Be sure you let them know if you are going to open house so they can expect a call from you if you wish you make an offer.
It would be the WORST to fall in love with a house and miss out because your realtor was at a dinner and didn’t know to have their phone on the ready.
Your offer needs to be strong
If you think you’re coming on strong, good. You need to if you actually want it. Obviously chat with your realtor and don’t go crazy but you should definitely strategize your offer. Going in at asking price without any other incentives is unlikely to get your offer accepted on your top choice of home! Personally, I’d automatically go in above asking right now- in the past this is not something I would done, it’s not a “ballin’ out” move. It’s just how you show your serious right now.
Consider changing your search parameters
Understanding everyone has different budgets and can’t just toss around an extra 20K to the asking price, consider changing your search parameters. Drop the price bracket down so you can account for the extra money you’re going to throw at it. Take it down from the extra full bath to a half bath or maybe consider a different floor plan.
When it came to the house we ended up making an offer on, I dropped the price bracket I was looking at and knocked off a half bath/bedroom. I ended up gaining a casita, solar panels, and an extra garage. You never know what can open up when you shake up your filter a bit. Be willing to part ways with one or two of your check boxes. If you drop the price, you might be able to add that extra bathroom later- or whatever.
Above all you just need to hang on. It’s already starting to go back to normal. I think it will take a while but it’s working back the other way. Keep searching, the right home is just around the corner.
Good luck to everyone trying to relocate to a new place to call home. Moving is stressful enough and now you have the added stressor of contracts falling through regularly and it can get completely overwhelming. Throw on some HGTV and dream about the decor for your new place- you’re going to find it!