Buyers who find a home they’d like to buy soon after they start their home search often pass on it because they feel they haven’t seen enough listings. Months later, when they haven’t found anything to compare to the first home they really liked, they can regret that they didn’t seize a great opportunity when they had a chance.
It takes a leap of faith and complete trust in your real estate agent to make a quick move in a market that’s new to you. You’ll feel more confident when you’ve done your homework and know the reasons why some listings sell for more than others. This is a process that takes time and is time well spent.
A characteristic of the current home-sale market, particularly in or near areas where job growth has improved significantly, is that there are not a lot of good homes for sale. In these niche markets, there tend to be more buyers looking than there are homes to satisfy the demand.
The housing market is bifurcated. Unlike the high-demand enclaves inspired by a pickup in employment, there are many more areas where there are far too many unsold homes and with too few buyers. This tends to have a dampening effect on home prices.
How long it takes you to find a home will depend in part on whether what you’re looking for is readily available. It will also depend on how many buyers are looking for the same kind of home you’d like to buy. If there’s competition for a scarce commodity, you might make offers on several homes before you are able to convince a seller to accept your offer.
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Investors snap up foreclosure listings quickly, but they aren’t going to call these places home. It’s rare for buyers to find a home they want to occupy as their primary residence quickly, either due to specialized housing needs or lack of inventory. Put the time you spend waiting to good use by learning more about the community in which you want to live. Patience should be your motto.
Patience is also needed to carry you through the contract negotiation and closing. Although each home-sale transaction is unique, it’s not uncommon for a glitch to come up at some point. Some homes don’t appraise for the price you’ve agreed to pay. If you don’t have any additional cash to add to the deal, and the seller won’t renegotiate the price, you’ll be back at square one, looking for a home to buy.
The glitch could occur before your offer is accepted if the sellers are stubbornly unrealistic about the price they’re asking. Recently, buyers were encouraged to make an offer on an overpriced listing that had been on the market for months. The buyers reluctantly made an offer for the top price they could pay for the house. The sellers flatly turned the buyers down and said they would never sell for that price.
Three months and one price reduction later, the house still hadn’t sold. The buyers were again encouraged to make an offer. They made an offer for the same price they did the first time, but the terms were more agreeable to the sellers. It was accepted.
Many unrealistic sellers never come around. Don’t waste your time on sellers who don’t have a strong motivation for selling. There’s a big difference between sellers who want to sell only if they can get an unrealistic price, and sellers who have purchased another home and have no need for the current one.
THE CLOSING: Until you have an accepted offer, keep your eye on the market; don’t miss a listing that will work for you and is reasonably priced.
By Dian Hymer, Monday, April 2, 2012.
Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of “House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide.”