Buying a home can be overwhelming under any circumstances, but especially in a hot housing market. Home prices go up, and the number of homes available goes down. With emotions and stress running high, you may be pressured into making a purchase you’ll regret, or giving up on the house hunt completely. It’s an important decision, and you can’t control the market. However, there are some steps you can take to make sure you still get a great new home in a tight market. Put your game face on, and dig in.
Getting pre-qualified is the first step of the mortgage process and is a cursory look at your financial situation. You provide the lender with basic information about your income, assets, and debts, and the lender performs a credit evaluation, giving you a ballpark estimate of how much money you may be able to borrow.
Scout your favorite neighborhoods.
Figure out things like commute times, school districts, and proximity to your most-visited spots. Make a list of a few different neighborhoods that would work. In a tight market, you probably won’t be able to be as picky about this as you’d like, so note whether you’d be willing to compromise—such as a longer commute for a better home.
List your priorities.
You’re going to have to make a quick decision after seeing a home. Have a list ready of what your home must have, and what you’d like it to have. You can bring the list with you to every open house and easily compare and contrast what homes have and what they are missing. This will help you know right away whether you want a particular home.
Make competitive offers.
There won’t be any time for low ball offers or waiting until your current home sells. You must put your best offer up first, and eliminate any contingencies that will make a seller toss your offer aside. There are likely many more where yours came from.
Work closely with a real estate agent.
They will help you quickly spot more listings. They’re also well-connected in their markets and may find out about listings before they even go on the market. Having an expert in your corner is a must when the inventory is low and homes are going fast.
You have to be able to attend an open house or do a showing at a moment’s notice. Chances are, there are several others on their way to that home already.
If you’ve taken plenty of time to prepare your budget and lists of priorities, you can feel confident you’re making a good decision for you and your family. If you’re feeling too unsure and emotional, you may end up with a home you don’t love or can’t afford. Your home is not a t-shirt you can return the next day. It is a huge, long-term investment. You want to put in some time and effort to make sure that even in a competitive housing market, you know what you want—and you’re ready to go get it.