Timing Is Everything: Tips For Tapping Into A Buyers’ Market

That much of the nation is in the midst of a tenacious real estate correction is hardly headline news anymore. Investors have beaten a hasty retreat, leaving behind inventories of unsold homes that presently outpace the number of buyers in many markets. What should be headline news, however, is how the wisest of sellers have reduced their profit expectations and happily entertain all offers reflective of the corrected values of their homes. Yet, just because these market forces—combined with low interest rates—add up to an extremely good time to buy, doesn’t necessarily make purchasing a home a piece of cake. But there are ways to make it one.

Last week we shared some tips to help sellers prosper in this year’s challenging market. This week, here are five tips to help buyers tap into the best prices in many years:

Get pre-approved for a mortgage. It’s a different sort of buyers’ market if you need to finance your purchase. Credit markets have tightened considerably, with half the products offered only a year ago no longer available today. Lenders have retreated to safer standards of underwriting that protect borrowers from overextending themselves. If you can’t afford a particular home using solid mainstream financing, you should continue looking.

Let your fingers do the walking. With so many homes to see, attempting to visit each one is counterproductive. Wasted time creates missed opportunities. At michaelsaunders.com, you can browse the region’s five multiple listing services, including Sarasota, Manatee, Venice, Englewood and Punta Gorda-Port Charlotte-North Port. Once you’ve narrowed your search, contact an experienced sales associate to help you judge the best values in your price range. Their insights, along with the analytical tools they bring to the table, will help you discard the overpriced lemons in your target neighborhoods. In Southwest Florida, you have your pick of real estate agents and the companies they represent. You should make your choice based on overall knowledge of the market, length of experience and how frequently their companies have worked through tough markets.

Beware of strangers bearing gifts. You aren’t shopping for a new car lease or a sexy new flat-screen TV, so don’t let merchandise incentives cloud your vision. If a seller is offering an incentive to buy, make sure it has something to do with the house, like a credit toward a desirable upgrade or a further reduction in price.

When you find the right house at the right price, buy it! If recent sales in the neighborhood support its asking price, go for it. Presumably, you are hunting for more than just a good price; you’re also looking for that one special house that completely suits your lifestyle. Holding back in hopes that prices will go lower is a flawed strategy. You can never know this until prices are heading up again. Meanwhile, someone else may buy the home, especially if it is priced correctly.

Make intelligent offers that enable you to negotiate with skill. Right now there is plenty of room to negotiate, provided you aren’t making uninformed offers that sellers don’t take seriously. You are in a much stronger position when you can show that recent sales in the neighborhood justify your offer. This provides a much firmer foundation from which to begin negotiations and takes you a giant step closer to enjoying your new home.


  • User Gravatar Craig
    October 17th, 2007

    I agree. I think it’s funny that people only buy when the masses are buying – then say, I wish I would have bought when it was low.

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