It's a sizzling, fast-paced seller's real estate market right now. Due in part to the inventory of available homes for sale being historically low, it was low at the end of 2019 and continues to drop. According to a homebuyinginstitute.com article, in February of 2021, there were fewer home for sale than in February 2020. With so few homes available and so many people looking, this is why it's extremely important to be prepared in advance. Prepared to make an offer quickly if you find a house you like that is, and prepared to take the necessary steps in order to purchase a home in today's market.
Have Your Financing in Order
If you're in the market to buy a home in the near future, the most important item on your agenda is to have proof that you have enough cash for the purchase or are pre-approved for a mortgage. The stronger you are financially, the better. If you are pre-approved for a conventional loan with a down payment of at least 20%, that improves your negotiating position. Be sure to get pre-approved and not just pre-qualified as there is a difference. A full pre-approval is when a mortgage loan officer pulls your credit, verifies your employment and income, has your complete application and has all the required documents from you. Your loan officer may even put your file through an initial underwriting. Have your pre-approval letter ready to submit with your offer to purchase a home when you find one.
Your Offer Price
As mentioned, the inventory of homes for sale is even lower than it was last year at this time. According to an article on Realtor.com, there were 52% less homes on the market in March of 2021 than in March of 2020. With limited inventory, home values are on the rise. Most homes that come on the market are selling in record time and are receiving multiple offers. In parts of the country, sellers are receiving significantly more than asking price. Be prepared to offer at least asking price. If there are multiple offers, the seller's agent will probably ask each buyer for their "highest and best" offer in price and terms of the contract.
Then comes the issue of the appraisal. A house has to appraise for the purchase price. A mortgage company will not lend more money than the house appraises for. Many buyers will need the extra money to pay the difference. Some buyers are even waiving the appraisal and showing proof of funds that they have enough money to cover the difference.
Writing offers to purchase with fewer contingencies is becoming more commonplace. Inspection contingencies are being waived and consumers are buying homes "as is", waiving appraisals. The less contingencies a seller has to worry about, the stronger the offer is. Most real estate agents and attorneys aren't recommending this to their clients. However, many buyers are insisting because they want their offers to be chosen.
Don't Ask For Anything Extra
In past markets, buyers asked for all the attached personal property, appliances and even some of the furniture in homes when they submitted their offers. Most sellers are expecting to leave the attached personal fixtures in their homes, such as light fixtures. In today's market, don't ask for anything more than what the sellers are including in the sale of the home. You don't want an appliance to be the difference between the sellers choosing your offer or another buyer's offer.
Give the sellers their preferred closing date. If it's not convenient for you, make it work. It's that simple.
Home values are expected to continue to rise into 2022. With interest rates still at historical lows, now is a great time to buy a home but move quickly. According to Realtor.com, houses are selling 9% faster than last year at this time. In hot areas, houses are selling in a day. Some are even selling privately before they hit the open market.