Great Expectations

Some are sure it has.  Others that it hasn’t.  On one thing, however, the experts are in total accord.  While at the very least it is close at hand, we will never know for sure that our real estate market has truly bottomed until several months after it already has.

Well-informed buyers, in the meantime, are in no mood to wait while the experts split hairs and historically low interest rates are given the chance to rise.   Moreover, the economy is improving, jobs are more secure, unemployment is declining, manufacturing is up; and pent-up housing demand has been on the back burner for way too long.  Most significantly, buyer expectation of tremendous value in today’s prices has been met to such a degree by enough sellers that ours is frequently recommended to both buyers and investors alike as one of the nation’s most value-laden markets.

With property sales at a one-year high as inventories fall to a six-year low, buyers new to the process can master the learning curve much faster by drawing a few lessons from those who’ve bought most recently.  They would tell you that to save time and avoid disappointment it’s wise to align your expectations to our fast-changing market from day one of your property search.

Here are some key suggestions for doing just that:

Step 1: Even if you’ve purchased a home several times before, take time to review the entire process with your real estate agent.  By doing so, you’ll learn where today’s stumbling blocks to a smooth and successful closing are most often waiting to trip you up.  Become familiar with a contract too; so that you are prepared to write one as soon as you find the right property.

Step 2: The best-priced properties are selling fast, with the most desirable increasingly on the receiving end of multiple, competitive offers.  If you are unsure whether a property is priced correctly, consult with your agent to find out.  Waiting for additional price reductions—or making too low an offer—could cause you bitter regret if a property “with your name on it” sells to a better-informed, faster-acting buyer.

Step 3: In conjunction with Step 2, ask your agent to review the latest statistics on actual property sales within your desired neighborhood and/or price range.  For example, there’s been a tremendous amount of hoopla attending the number of additional bank-owned properties that are said to be coming before the foreclosure crisis subsides.  Currently, the average foreclosure is being bound to contract within 26 days by buyers who are well-versed on the market and ready to pounce on every new opportunity.

Step 4: Get pre-approved for a mortgage.  This may not seem like a much of a hurdle if your credit, income and employment histories are solid and unassailable.  But overly-cautious lenders stung during the downturn are all-too-frequently causing many a worthy transaction to unravel.  Plus, that you are pre-approved for a mortgage often adds to your negotiating leverage once a seller realizes you can not only afford the property you are bidding on; but can also close on it.

Step 5: Discuss the process of home inspections and appraisals with your agent.  These are two additional stumbling blocks to a smooth and successful closing in today’s market.  In the event of a bad inspection or lowball appraisal, discuss with your agent what your next steps with the seller should be.

Step 6: Don’t invest yourself too emotionally into any one property.  Instead, discuss a back-up plan with your agent in the event that your first choice fails to materialize.  That way you won’t spend too much time “mourning the loss” and will be prepared to move forward on your next priority property.

Step 7: If you are still months (or even years) away from purchasing, use the time you have to better familiarize yourself with the area while keeping abreast of the market and its fast-changing nuances.

Step 8: Realize that every major purchase often results in a modicum of “buyer’s remorse” shortly after you’ve made such a momentous commitment.  It’s a normal reaction.  Still, if you’ve taken all the steps outlined above, any such feelings should be fleeting since you’ve not only taken the most studied approach to buying, but have done so in a market where most buyers will be congratulating themselves for years to come once their expectations are met.


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