How to Buy Smart in a Sellers Market

Existing home sales have soared to the highest pace in three-and-a-half years, inventory has been sparse, and prices have made a monumental comeback, rising 11 percent  in the past year. Yep, it’s officially a seller’s market. While this might make plenty of buyers nervous, it is still possible to score a great home in the midst of a booming market.

Get Pre-Approved

Start by having your mortgage financing completely in place. Don’t waste your time with a pre-qualification; sellers certainly won’t. When there are multiple bids coming in, sellers will only consider those who already have a pre-approval letter in hand. Pre-approval means choosing a lender and getting cleared for funding based on a thorough check of your credit, income and assets.

Compensate for Your Weakness

Competing in a seller’s market is tough, especially when you’re going up against investors with cash. Remember that sellers are not necessarily looking just for the best price. You might find success by making the simplest offer, with the least strings (and hassles) attached. Look at your offer from the seller’s perspective to see where your weaknesses lie and then see what you might be able to offer to sweeten the deal.

Find an Experienced Agent

When you find yourself in the midst of a bidding war, you’ll need an agent who is extremely knowledgeable about the area, local prices and other agents. The right agent will be able to give you valuable counsel about how to place your offer and with what stipulations. Referrals are always the best way to find someone trustworthy and experienced.

And keep in mind a recent survey from real estate data firm Trulia found that 18 percent of homeowners regret not having saved up a larger down payment and 16 percent wished they were more financially secure before buying a home. Make sure you have established your home buying priorities before joining in the fray. When it comes to buying in a seller’s market, patience is required to snag the right deal, even though you may have to compete for it when it comes along.

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