04 October 2011

Be a Successful Buyer Today! Hints for a Victory in Today's Real Estate Market, Part I

We all hear about how tough it is today to enter the real estate market, yet buyers and sellers are closing on sales everyday.  While there is no single formula to attaining success in the real estate market, there are attributes to a successful purchase or sale.  Here are some general rules of thumb for buyers and sellers in today's market.

  • Have a Clear Idea of What They Are Seeking.  Make a top 10 list of what you are seeking.  Creating an old-fashioned prioritized list of wants and needs is essential to sorting out which homes have potential and which are just not a fit.  Periodically revisit your list as you see more homes.  Seeing homes "in the flesh" will start to clarify what you want or feel you need in a home.  Sometimes we start with a one set of criteria and end with a total different set.  If you will be sharing your home with your life partner and/or family, having a concrete list to refer to can keep everyone on the same page even during tricky conversations.
  • Pick a Lender They Trust.  Early on in the process, even before they start to look at homes, smart buyers compare loan packages and lenders and find out exactly what they can comfortably afford.  There are still many different loan packages out there, and thankfully, the level of quality in loan officers and mortgage brokers has risen.  The job for buyers is to find a lender that will find the loan package best suited for them, but who will also attend to the details of the loan and be proactive so as to avoid late hurdles that can postpone, or worse yet, prevent final loan approval.  I have many great lenders I can recommend - just let me know.
  • Pick a Realtor That Can Get the Job Done.  Your Realtor is much more than your personal home-shopper.  In one shape or another, a good real estate broker will be your work horse, confidant, details guy or gal, field general, expert, resource broker, insurance policy, and advocate.  Skilled Realtors get regular updates from legal experts, understand the latest contract updates in their MLS, understand values and trends in a given area, and most importantly are watching your back as you travel from Point A to Point Z in what is often a treacherous real estate transaction these days.
  • Are Realistic.  Yes, we are in clearly in a Golden Age for buyers.  We have unparalleled interest rates, fine homes available at great prices, and motivated sellers.  However, apart from the reign of Genghis Khan, no unilateral victory exists.  Buyers do not get to wipe out entire villages, leverage the seller into saying yes to everything, and get 30% off the listing price at the drop of a hat.  Even in today's buyers market, it's unusual that a buyer gets a perfect 10 in a home.  Even the builder of a custom home often pays a bit more for the job or wishes they had one more bathroom at the end.  Remember your end goal:  getting a home that fits your needs.
  • Have Imagination.  If you have not found a perfect 10 out of a 10, consider a seven, eight, or nine out of 10.  By using some imagination and thinking outside of the box, you may find a reasonable way to reconfigure a room or re-landscape a yard to make it the home you were seeking.  Sometimes some minor lighting improvements, a can of fresh paint, and a new appliance or two can make a world of difference.  Given where prices, interest rates, and leverage stands, you should have a some financial resources available to put your own personal stamp on your new home.