Spring is here and homebuyers are hitting the streets in Columbus, Ohio. While this is the busiest time of year for real estate, low-interest rates paired with a somewhat low inventory of available homes means that the market, especially for starter homes, is a bit tight. By no means should buyers throw their hands up in despair, but there are a few things I recommend they keep in mind to find and get the home they want.
1. Get preapproved with a local lender
Preapproval for a home loan is not at all unusual as it shows agents and sellers that you, the buyer, are serious, rock solid, and qualified. Adding the signature of a local lender gives agents and sellers a sense of security that can help a buyer stand out from the crowd. In a seller’s market, that’s pure gold.
2. Start hunting
Even if you’re looking in your own city, your best bet is to start with a web search. Get a feel for the areas you want to live in and the kind of home you can afford. Most realtors offer videos, photo tours or 3D Listings that let buyers walk-through a home from the comfort of their own sofa.
3. Find a good agent
This should go without saying, but buyers, especially first time buyers, need to make sure they find someone they feel confident working with. A competitive market can mean making multiple offers on multiple homes, lots of open houses, and time spent discussing options with an agent. Choose someone experienced with and knowledgeable of the neighborhood and area you are looking in, interview them, and then get to work. A good agent can offer invaluable insight on the process, the area, and can put their connections with other local agents to work for you, too.
4. Be prepared to pay list price or more
Know how much you can afford and what that will buy. A seller’s market means that there may not be much room for haggling. Buyers may find themselves in a price war, so make sure you are financially as well as mentally and emotionally prepared to bid higher than the list price if necessary.
Have realistic expectations. I hate to say this, but it is possible that in this kind of market offers will be rejected. Steel yourself for it now by not getting emotionally attached to a property. It can be challenging to remain objective about a home even as you try to imagine a new life there, but when an offer is finally accepted there will be plenty of opportunity to start dreaming and planning.
Be flexible with the seller. It’s important to show the seller you are a serious buyer, but it can be just as important to be flexible. If you can move quickly on the closing or delay the closing a month, that could make your offer even more appealing. Be willing to overlook little things that will save the seller some headaches. Your agent will have plenty of suggestions, too, that can help sweeten the pot without adding extra costs.