In today’s housing market buyers usually need to move fast.
Sometimes buyers realize this, sometimes they don’t. I had a buyer a few months back comment, once she started looking at homes in her price range, that “I guess we need to move fast” since homes she liked were gone in a day. It is so true in many segments of our market…although not all, such as high end.
It’s tough as a first time buyer to realize market conditions are such that in order to get the home you want means moving forward quickly. And it can be scary! But being fully prepared to make such a huge purchase, and then being decisive about it, is pretty much essential in order to achieve success.
Here are some key things you can and should do so you are prepared to move quickly when the time is right.
Get Pre-Approved with a Reputable Lender
Today’s sellers and their listing agents want reassurance that you are financially in a position to purchase a home and there is a strong likelihood of you closing. The only way to prove that is with a written and current pre-approval (NOT just a pre-qualification) that will demonstrate that you are financially well qualified (credit, assets, income, etc.). It doesn’t hurt to have your lender contact the L.A. once your offer has been submitted to re-emphasize how qualified you are.
It’s important to note that an online lender is not likely to impress most sellers or their agents.
You MUST know exactly what you can afford to buy, based on your loan qualifications but also your personal budget, so you can make the right decision. This will make you more confident, and allow you to move ahead quickly when the time is right.
Know as Much about the Market as You Can
It’s essential to get educated about the local market conditions in your area of interest. Some of that comes about through research and looking at listing activity. You should also get a lot of information from your Realtot to help you understand what’s taking place in the local market and how this impacts making a strong offer. You can expect that many properties are getting multiple offers and selling for close to list price, or even over asking.
You MUST Assume Other Buyers Will Be Interested
Assumptions in buying real estate is generally not smart – it’s much better to know the reality, even if it isn’t what you want to hear. But in the case of competition, always assume there will be competition and act accordingly. That means making a strong offer and without delay. And if a home has been on the market a little while DO NOT assume that can’t change in a heartbeat.
You Must Know What You Need
You likely have a list of things you want, but it’s most important to know what you need. There will always be trade-offs and in our market it’s unlikely you will get everything you would like. If you are still waffling about those amenities you would like to have, or are unclear about where you really want to be, you are not going to be able to move quickly. And if you are not clear about your needs and make a decision anyway, it will probably be the wrong one.
Understand the Offer Paperwork and the Buying Process
Be sure to review a copy of the standard offer paperwork and discuss with your Realtor, rather than waiting to the last minute. If your Realtor doesn’t provide this documentation be sure to ask for it! Understanding the important decisions you have to make about things like offer price and closing date, the contingencies to include (inspection, appraisal, loan, HOA), and competitive terms and conditions up front will save you time, and you won’t have to angst over it when it’s time for writing that offer
I strongly recommend you review the purchase process with your Realtor before making an offer so you know what to expect. I do through this in detail with my clients! Confusion around what to expect, or what happens first, then second, etc., will lead to uncertainty, and make you uncomfortable about moving quickly when you need to.
Have an Attitude of Decisiveness
I believe you have to be prepared to decide quickly on making an offer or not, and not think about it for a day or two. That can be scary, especially with a big purchase like a home, and even more so when it’s your first time buying. And you may be the kind of person who tends to be a bit more cautious in your decision making…and that’s fine.
What’s important is that when you are ready (you are qualified, you know what you want, you like what you found, and there is competition), you must have a mindset of making a decision without delay. That said, it’s perfectly fine if moving quickly is just too fast for you, in particular when you are just starting out. You certainly don’t want to make a hasty decision. The point is you must realize there may be consequences of delaying a decision on a home you really like, want, and can afford. So be prepared to step outside your comfort zone.
Understanding the market, doing your homework, being financially and mentally prepared, and working with a good Realtor will put you in the best position to react quickly when the right house comes along, and help you achieve success – your NEW home!!