10 Tips to Buy a Home in Today’s Market

In the past few years, it was relatively difficult to be a buyer in the Seattle market. Inventory was low and there was often significant competition for listings. It was not unusual to lose three or four bids before finally purchasing a home. The pace of sales has slowed in today’s market, making it easier for buyers to find the right home and negotiate the right deal.

Here are 10 quick tips if you are looking to buy a home:

  1. Get pre-qualified for a loan – Mortgage programs and rates have been changing rapidly. Find a reputable lender who can help you find the right loan programs that fit with your budget, income and housing needs. Interview lenders and understand how they are paid. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you don’t know a lender, ask your real estate agent to refer you to one that they trust.
  2. Hire a real estate agent –  An experienced real estate agent can be an invaluable resource when shopping for a home. They know the local market and can gain access to many listings that you cannot see on your own. Interview prospective agents, understand how they are paid and ask about the services that they will provide.
  3. Do your research – A home search is far easier if you know where you want to live. Do your research on schools, neighborhoods and commutes. Also examine real estate trends for the neighborhoods you are interested in.
  4. Know what you can afford – Put together your family budget, planning for the new mortgage payment. Don’t forget to add in the ongoing maintenance costs of owning a home.
  5. Make an offer – You can’t buy a home if you don’t make an offer, and in real estate that means placing a written offer. In today’s market, you may consider bidding lower than the asking price. Don’t be shy about making a lower offer. Many sellers will be willing to negotiate. However, you should also be reasonable. Understand the seller’s mindset and pay attention to what recent homes nearby have sold for.
  6. Act quickly if you find your dream house – If you find that perfect house, take action and make an offer. The market is slower, but well-priced homes in nice locations will sell relatively quick. It only takes one other buyer to lose the home you have been dreaming about.
  7. Pay attention to resale – Buying a home is an exciting and emotional process. Don’t ignore problems with the home that will make it difficult to sell later. If you are looking at homes with an ugly view, noisy location, messy neighbors or a strange floor plan, remember that it may be challenging for you to sell in the future.
  8. Leverage your agent – Agents negotiate home purchases everyday. They can help you understand the psychology of the seller to help you craft more compelling offers. They can also help you uncover details about the property history and underlying seller motivations.
  9. Inspect the property – Take advantage of the inspection period. Hire professional inspectors and check out all the major systems to avoid unwanted surprises in the future.
  10. Look at the big picture  – Remember the major reasons why you are buying a new home, and don’t let small problems and cosmetic details get in the way. Generally those issues are easily fixed.