Experts agree: there’s never been a housing market like this before.
High prices were a problem even before the pandemic. In the U.S. they’re up from around $260,000 median rate to more than $380,000 today. Thanks largely to a lack of supply, list prices are up almost 15% this year alone. Some cities, like Austin and Denver, are seeing meteoric rises of more like 30%. So. With the few, expensive houses that are available, how in the world can a first-time buyer get a home (let alone survive the process)?
In any challenging market, it’s easy to get rushed or frustrated. Your expectations aren’t being met and sometimes it seems to take forever. Don’t let impatience, or worse, that feeling that there just aren’t enough houses so you have to spend more… or you need to settle… get the best of you. In fact, that’s the last thing you need and you’ll likely end up with a home you regret buying later.
Here are a few tips for keeping your cool in a hot or tight market:
Before you even schedule your first viewing, connect with a lender and get preapproved for a mortgage. Not only does this signal to a seller and an agent that you’re a viable buyer who means business, but it’s also one of several ways of knowing how much home you can afford. (Don’t forget to account for taxes, insurance, closing costs, utilities, commute costs, and future needed repairs!)
Don’t “guess” on your realtor
Toss out the yellow pages on this one! Ask around, get three or four personal recommendations, interview at least two, and make sure to get an experienced, proven professional agent who can act as a guide through this challenging process. Especially since it’s your first time. She or he not only needs to be knowledgeable but also empathetic of what could indeed turn out to be an up and down process for you and your family.
Keep emotion low and logic high
It’s almost impossible not to get excited (or upset) when shopping for a home. But logic will save you in so many ways. Logic would state that at a certain cost level, you won’t be able to afford the rest of your life. Logic should set the line in the sand, the amount you refuse to go over and write it down to remind you. And when emotion says “maybe for this very special home we could stretch a bit,” logic should point back to the absolutely-not-one-penny-higher price on paper and just say no.
Wants vs. needs: be flexible
If you find yourself adjusting your expectations multiple times along the way–good. It’s a great survival tactic. Keep your list of non-negotiable “must-haves” as short as you can and it opens up more possibilities. Maybe you thought there was no way you could live in a condo? And yet by downgrading your size needs, you might find a great first-time home option that will help you build some equity so that you can swap up when the time is right. Maybe you watch too much HGTV and expect a subway tile backsplash and brushed nickel fixtures. It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint and some affordable DIY finishing touches can do to upgrade a room.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
You’ve decided you want a new home and you want it now. But especially in a difficult market, that’s not how it works. Instead, you have even more research to do and need even more patience to do it. You’ll probably look at dozens if not hundreds of homes and you may lose out on multiple offers. Steady and grounded wins the home-buying race. Don’t be afraid to take a break. When you come back, the market might even be more in your favor!
When you do finally land that sale, keep Clean Title, LLC, in mind. We’re researching the past to protect your future!
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