As the weather warms, many home buyers are venturing out making themselves known; only to be greeted with low inventories and higher list prices. The National Association of Realtors® March 23rd press release indicated that nationwide low housing inventory is pushing home prices to grow rapidly; average home prices across the country increased 7.5% during February compared to the same period last year (realtor.org).
Much like the “tire kicker;” a typical home buyer visits selected open houses and lurks online to see what’s out there before talking to a lender and/or a real estate agent. While desiring to be low-key and pretending to be demure may be the strategy of choice; acting this way during a low inventory market could lead you to miss out on the home of your dreams.
If you’re part of this year’s home buyer cohort, prepare for a low inventory market by talking with a mortgage lender and a real estate agent before you begin your search. Working with an experienced agent and lender may increase your chances of not only finding a home, but getting your offer accepted.
Even though home buyers are instructed to get qualified for a mortgage before they begin looking for a home, it is often left until just prior to writing their first offer. A lender approval not only provides you the certainty of knowing what you can afford; it tells the home seller you are capable of buying their home.
Although getting a mortgage qualification letter today is more involved than it was in bygone years, it is for the better. To comply with new rules and regulations, lenders today require a formal application before they will provide you an approval letter that can accompany your offer to purchase. You will need to provide documents indicating your income and assets to determine how much you can afford as well as verify the funds for down payment and closing costs. The application not only helps you through the home buying process, it will make your mortgage process more streamlined too.
Although hiring a buyer agent is not always a consideration during the home search, your choice of agent could affect the outcome of your purchase. Choose carefully – research has indicated that real estate agents are not all alike; veteran agents positively affect your transaction and are more efficient compared to rookies. Experienced agents offer intangible services such as understanding the nuances of the housing market, as well as having an increased ability to engage the parties in the transaction. Additionally, it was found that home buyers who employ full-time agents have better outcomes than those who hire part-time agents.
Rather than waiting to choose your agent until you’re ready to make an offer on a home, meeting and interviewing several agents could help you determine their experience and commitment. Although most buyers think of savvy agents as being expert negotiators; in a low inventory market it also pays to have an agent who thinks outside the box to seek home sale opportunities that are not typically advertised in the MLS.
A low inventory housing market presents the home buyer with a number of issues. Working with an experienced agent and mortgage lender can help you through the ups and downs of the process as well as reframing your expectations to fit the reality of market.
Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.