An Honest Conversation: Buying a House in Today’s Sellers Market
Today I wanted to talk candidly and unscripted about what life is like in the eyes of a buyer right now. You have probably heard how hard it is to find a house right now. When you do find a house that you like, there are multiple other contracts. It's no joke right now. There are lots of buyers and a shortage of sellers. We are down twenty to twenty-five listings compared to what we typically have in the central Florida area this time of year. I think there are sellers that are a bit skittish to list their house because they’re thinking the same things as other buyers: where do I go now, how do I know that I’ll be able to buy a house? There are different things that can be written into the contract and strategies to use. I put together a list of about fifteen that can be used for sellers that are looking to either upgrade or downgrade their housing. For buyers today, there are houses that are priced just right. Especially if it is being listed on a weekend it will be sold by the end of the weekend. When we are working with buyers right now, there are some things we highly recommend to be done.
First is you absolutely have to have a pre-approval. You can’t window shop because whatever house you will not be available when you are ready to buy it. So, I would go beyond just the pre-qualification where they know the lender would check your credit scores and base their approval off what you tell them as far as your income, but go for the pre-approval where you are supplying them with copies of your pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements and have an underwriter look at your material to get it pre-approved.
Number two is to know you have to be nimble and flexible. For people who have a strict schedule, what we recommend to our clients is that if you find a house that you want to see, be prepared to see it that day. The nice thing is that with Peter and I typically one of us is always available to go out in the afternoon to see a house. In the event that you are not flexible, we suggest to our clients to schedule out a time that works best for them, and then the day before we will look for houses that fit the criteria and then go see those specific houses the next day. We also know there are going to be some needs and wants and you have to know what your deal breakers are. For example, if you absolutely have to have a master on the main level and you want to have two levels, you might have to look for just one level that has the same number of bedrooms you want which will expand the number of houses that are available to you. So, you may want a two-level but end up with one level, but you’ll have a master's on the main level. If you’re looking for a pool, are you willing to put a pool in after the fact? Are you willing to make upgrades so the house is tailored to what it is that you want as opposed to buying a move-in-ready house? There are some hard questions you have to answer right now.
When you finally do find the house, it’s going to be making a strong offer that becomes important. Are you able to use some of your down payment money to put down fifteen percent instead of twenty just in case the house doesn’t appraise and use the other five percent towards guaranteeing any amount that the house doesn’t appraise for? We haven’t personally had this problem where a house does not appraise but there are agents in our area that we’re hearing that they are getting appraisals of $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 below the contract rate. We haven’t had that problem and there are strategies that we can do to make your offer more appealing than others. Certainly a full price or above the asking cash offer with no appraisal contingency, that’s a hard one to beat. We will certainly put in a few things that we’ll do to help make your offer as strong as possible and we will not put you in a position where you don’t feel comfortable with the offer. But, don’t be surprised if we try to push you just a little bit and ask you the question if this house sold for one thousand dollars more than what you are putting on offer for would you be okay with that?
There are many heart-to-heart conversations that are having to happen, because ultimately, it’s a seller’s market. As the buyer, it is all about being nimble, prepared, and willing to ask the hard questions and answering questions that you might have about the home buying process. The one thing we have realized in reflecting on all buyers that we’ve worked with, is that we have gotten under contract so it is possible even against multiple offers. We do have some buyers that decide to take a break and just kind of said it wasn’t for them and that the market is a little bit too crazy for them, and that is fine. We are here to serve our clients to the best of our ability and meet their needs. If you have any questions at all, please don’t be afraid to ask. That is what we are here for. We are here to educate and to be a resource.