As we start to see longer days and the world has accepted the results of the latest NFL season, the housing market starts to pick up. We see buyers getting caught up in the intensity, which rarely has a good ending. So we’ve included these tips to all buyers to avoid being overly rushed in the home-buying process.
While higher interest rates slowed things down in November, the market is showing signs of a strong market and its important to remember that home buying is a long term decision.
1. Begin with the end in mind
A good line from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People rings true here. Sometimes buyers get nervous too soon about finding a home by a certain date. They want to move by August, so they start getting anxious as the market picks up. We always help buyers count backward from their move date: Closing –> Contract Period –> Offer Period. Typically contract periods are 30-45 days. Getting overly anxious early in the process can force bad decisions, higher offers, and undue stress. Some buyers have no reason whatsoever to be in a rush. They’re in a month-to-month lease, or living with family / friends. While it would be nice to find something fast, jumping into the market and competing in the frenzy is costly.
2. Flexible Closings
One of the most common things buyers tell me is when their lease is up. As a landlord for 20 years and a Realtor for almost that long, I’ve seen many situations where a tenant approaches the landlord at the beginning of the process and asks for a flexible lease termination or month-to-month option. Most landlords like the advanced notice and are cooperative. Some may ask for more rent, but that’s not nearly as common.
Along the same lines, people moving from out of town usually feel the pinch of having to buy fast. Consider short-term furnished rentals and mobile storage options to give yourself some breathing room. Home buying selection is crucial. Rushing can be bad.
3. Broaden Price Criteria
Another regular occurrence is when buyers change their criteria in the middle of the search. This can be bad in many respects. Usually its based on price. Going into the process extra conservatively is fine, but don’t limit the price conservatively on your home search! More commonly than not, buyers try to thread the needle by wanting the perfect home for the perfect price. Be realistic! While a good Realtor should never encourage a buyer to spend more than they should, we find buyers REAL price range after a few trips out. If the buyer passes on listings for the first few months because of restrictive standards, then changes midstream, they might miss out on the best opportunities.
4. Broaden Search Details
Buyers typically start out pickier. The process of aligning realistically with the market we call, “getting into the saddle.” The problem with being extra picky, like being too conservative, is complex. Getting too picky when looking online or being to restrictive in search criteria can cause problems.
One of our goals is to always have the home looking fantastic, both with staging / and furnishing, along with great professional photographs. Not all Realtors do. Excluding a home because of bad photos is missing the point. Not being flexible in location and features really is costly in our current state of low housing inventory. When buyers tell us their goals, in many cases, we already know they’ll need to be more flexible. Keep an open mind!
5. Realize the Fluidity of the Market
The market is fluid, not linear. The market is ever-changing. We can’t predict how it will be, but one common trend is that the springtime (starting in middle of winter) is busy. As we hit summer, people often times slow down the search, and maybe postpone it until fall. There’s picnics, vacations, weddings and float trips; a lot of distractions from house hunting. This might be a time to seize the opportunity. Another aspect of market fluidity is Days on Market (CDOM). People are crazed to find the amazing home that was just listed, while homes that may have been overlooked are still available. Homes that are “back on market” are also great opportunities. Though the contract may fall through due to home problems or inflexible sellers, a lot of time there’s nothing wrong except the buyer may have rushed into things and changed their mind.
6. Don’t Fall in Love before the First Date!
Homes are homes. We’ve seen buyers fall in love with a house or condo, only to find something better down the road. Keep your emotions in check when looking and be open to the possibility that there are other options that may be just around the corner.
Hiring a good, experienced Realtor with an equally good team of support professionals goes a long way towards a smooth and favorable buying experience. Ask questions and decide for yourself, but allow them to share experience and ideas that have accumulated over the years. It always pays off!
St Louis real estate is our specialty! If you want to net the best value when you buy, anywhere in the St Louis, MO area, call us for a no obligation assessment! We work throughout the metro area, especially in Sunset Hills, Crestwood, St Louis City, St Louis County, Ballwin, Chesterfield, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, St Charles,or one of the other areas we serve, simply click the “How-To Find my buyers agent” link at the top or bottom of this page to begin the selling process now. Buying and selling, check out our home seller blog or home selling page!