Unless you're an American hermit, you know that the 2022 U.S. housing market favors sellers--in a big way. Housing inventory is low, and bidding wars are common. Additionally, shrinking supply has caused a spike in median home prices nationwide. Some cities saw prices jump almost 25% in 2021. In our market (Greater Greenville, SC), median home prices jumped 20% last year, and the housing affordability index decreased dramatically.
So, what's a homebuyer--especially a first-time homebuyer--to do when the seller holds all the cards? Here are a handful of suggestions about what to do and what to avoid.
First, the don'ts:
In a seller's market, not doing the wrong things is, perhaps, more important than doing the right ones, so I'm leading with the negatives.
Homes are available. I'd be lying if I said they are abundant. They aren't, but good homes are available. The key is to stay calm, think clearly, and evaluate every option carefully. You can't do those things well if you panic. Panic generally leads to poor decisions. Making one of the biggest purchases of a lifetime while you're in panic mode can be hugely expensive on several levels.
Don't give up.
Expect the process to be a long one, and determine that you'll keep looking until you find a home that suits you well. Recent clients of ours placed offers on 13 homes. The first 10 homes--and the 12th one-- went to others. They had the 11th home under contingency contract. That contract failed when the home appraised significantly below market value. Ironically, 13 was the lucky number for them. And you know what? It was one of the best homes--if not the very best one--of all that they'd offered for or viewed. You're persistence as a buyer really is crucial in a seller's market. Keep looking. Keep offering. Keep going.
Now, the do's:
Wise buyers in a seller's market give themselves an advantage by doing a few things well. If you're ready to enter the home-buyer's market, be prepared for success by heeding this advice:
Look. Look. And look again.
This is the corollary to "Don't give up." I mention it again because it's THAT important. Keep looking. Your "Lucky 13" home may be the one that comes through your phone app at the end of a long work day when the last thing you want to do is contact your realtor® and go look at it. Here's a tip: GO SEE IT! You just never know. In this market, "Look, look, look" is just as important as "Location, location, location."
Be ready to make an offer.
Be prepared to act quickly. Have your approval letter ready and your earnest money available. Be psyched to act. The window to view a home, consider the details of your offer, and submit the offer may be only hours long. If you're not ready to go, you're wasting your time looking.
Use a Realtor®
Call me self-serving if you will, but a buyer NEEDS a realtor--especially a first-time buyer, and especially in a market so weighted in favor of sellers. It's easier to feel confident about a quick decision when you have someone experienced to help you get ready to start looking, show you the home, prepare the offer, guide you through the process, and answer your questions. And, since the buyer in South Carolina doesn't usually pay the real estate agent's commission, there's no good reason not to seek the services of a professional. Do yourself a favor and reach out to a realtor® you know and trust.
Now, the wrap-up:
Buying a home in a seller's market isn't for the faint of heart. You'll need large doses of calmness, persistence, and preparation--and a trusted real estate agent.
Although we can't instill you with calmness, persistence and preparation, at Walker's Riverside Properties, we can help you navigate a seller's market successfully because "We Do Your HOMEwork." We'll guide you to your new home. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.