The real estate market tends to be cyclical with some periods favoring buyers and other periods favoring sellers. As with other free markets, the pricing and availability of real estate is directly related to the forces of supply and demand. While many real estate markets in the United States are experiencing a substantial slowdown, other markets remain robust, and some even continue to grow. What makes the situation even more complicated is that even within a particular city or county, there may be some areas that are hot and others that are cold.
In regions of the country in which the real estate market is slowing, there are some things homebuyers can do to increase their chance of getting the property that they want on terms that are favorable. Below are some strategies to consider:
1. Clarify What You Want. Be sure to understand what kind of property you want (e.g. bedrooms, bathrooms, size, yard, location, etc.). Identify items that you „must have“ and items that you would be willing to forego if your other priorities were met.
2. Consult Experts. You’ve no doubt heard the saying that „all real estate is local,“ so arm yourself with the best information available. Consult a local real estate expert who can guide you about what communities are hot and which ones are not. Obviously, you are more likely to find deals in communities that have excess supply and limited demand than vice versa.
3. Understand Market Data. Obtaining and evaluating data can be one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Identify communities that you find desirable and ask your real estate agent to provide you relevant sales statistics. For example, your agent can provide you:
a. A summary of how many properties are available in communities that you deem desirable.
b. How long properties are taking to sell this month, last month, last quarter, last year, etc.
c. How many properties have sold this month, last month, last quarter, last year, etc.
d. Changes in the median and average price of properties for a community this month, last month, last quarter, last year, etc.
e. Data on the sales price to list price ratio (SP: LP). This ratio provides information about how much, on average, sellers are reducing their price.
f. Detailed data on properties that are similar to the type of property you desire (often known as „comparables“ or „comps“).
4. High Inventory Communities. Identify, or ask your agent to identify, communities that appear to be particularly slow, and that have an unusually large inventory of homes. You will have a broader variety of options in these communities, and you may increase the likelihood of finding a better deal.
5. Loan Pre-Approval. Be sure to consult with your bank or mortgage broker and obtain a loan pre-approval document. This not only let’s you know how much you can afford, but it also demonstrates to sellers that you are a serious buyer and that your offer is worthy of serious consideration.
6. Seller’s Motivation. While information about why a seller is selling is usually confidential, there are situations in which the seller will allow their agent to disclose important factors regarding their personal situation. Be sure to ask your agent to inquire about any information that the seller has disclosed to his/her agent that can be conveyed to your agent. This information may help you decide on making an offer on a property and the price you wish to offer.
7. Home Inspection. A home inspection conducted by a qualified inspector can provide you valuable information about the condition of a property. Moreover, if there are items that need repair or replacement, you can use this information to modify your offer price or terms.
8. Expand Search Scope. As mentioned above, even within a particular city or county, there may be some areas that are hot and others that are not. Be sure to provided detailed information about what you want to your agent, so that he/she can provide you a variety of community options.
9. Be Patient. Time is on your side when there is excess supply and insufficient demand. Try not to „fall in love“ with a house so much that you cannot be objective. It may be that multiple offers and counter-offers occur before you either get the property you want or decide to walk way from a deal. You may also want to look at more properties than you normally would, so that you are exposed to a variety of options.
While the above is not an exhaustive list of strategies, it is a good starting point of issues to consider when buying real estate, particularly in a market that favors buyers. Obtain the services of a knowledgeable Real Estate agent who can provide you with additional strategies to help you reach your real estate objectives.
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by Real Estate Advisor