While a hot real estate market may be great for sellers, it’s daunting for buyers, who often feel pressured to make rash decisions. If you’re searching for your first home or upgrading to a new home, check out these tips from USA Today. First things first though—stop by our offices to make sure your finances and insurance is ready for an upgrade.
An overheated real estate market is never good news for buyers in search of a budget-friendly starter home.
But thanks to increased confidence in the economy, leading more people to make large purchases like new homes, that’s exactly the type of real estate market 2017 is ushering in.
According to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the share of households that believe the economy is improving soared to 72% in the first quarter of 2017. “Forty-seven percent believe that strongly, up from 45% in Q4 2016 and 44% one year ago in Q1 2016,” NAR said.
When there’s increased competition for homes, prices generally go up. (Go here to see how much house you can afford.)
A new report from Redfin bears this out, revealing home prices in February increased 7.2% from a year earlier. What’s more, homes priced for less than $240,000 witnessed the highest appreciation — skyrocketing 8.4% year over year in February and 100% since the market lagged in 2012.
Combined with a lack of housing stock — Redfin reports a 6.4% decline in new listings in February — and you have what might be a daunting buying experience for newcomers.
With that in mind, here are five tips from experts on how best to snag a starter home right now.
1. Work with a professional
This may seem like less-than-helpful advice, but it’s the first suggestion most experts offer when discussing the predicament faced by first-time home buyers.
“You want someone who knows the neighborhood,” said Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research and communications for NAR. “It could be difficult if you go it alone.”
Seek out an agent who is knowledgeable about the areas in which you’d like to search so you can help avoid these first-time homebuyer mistakes.
2. Get pre-approved before starting a search
Before discussing the pre-approval issue, it’s important to sort out your finances and to do it before embarking upon a search.
This effort should include reviewing your credit score. If it’s less-than-stellar, you can reach out to lenders for tips regarding how best to improve it, said Boston-based Redfin real estate agent James Gulden. You can view two of your credit scores for free, with helpful updates every two weeks, on Credit.com.
“Sometimes people see their credit score and don’t know where to go from there,” said Gulden. “All lenders have different thresholds for what they’re willing to take on in terms of a buyer’s credit score. And they will also look at your employment profile.”
When you’re ready, it’s wise to obtain pre-approval for a mortgage before wading into the market. Not only will it ensure you lose no time when you’re ready to make an offer, it will help clarify what you can realistically afford.
3. Be prepared to make compromises
Even seasoned, older buyers make compromises. Whether it’s the price, condition or amenities, compromising is part of the process.
“It’s more common for millennials to make compromises on first homes, but all buyers really do compromise on something,” said Lautz.
Translation: Figure out what you are willing to let go of or do without.
To discover tips 4 and 5, head over to USA Today.