Right now, it’s tough to be a homebuyer. We looked at some of the country’s largest housing markets and found that homes stay on the market an average of only 89 days in LA, 87 days in Atlanta, 67 days in Washington D.C., 61 days in Denver and only 54 days in Seattle.
There are tons of reasons we’re seeing so much competition. More Millennials are looking for starter homes, Baby Boomers are downsizing, populations are shifting to city centers, and construction is slowing. All of these causes lead to one big effect: a shortage of homes to buy. In fact, housing inventory has been dropping for more than three years (oof).
Are you looking for a house in a hot real estate market? Whether you’ve been on the hunt for six days or six months, we’re betting you’re ready for a pep talk. Here are our five tips to navigating the competition:
1. Find a real estate agent.
Real estate websites make it easy to search for houses, but the home buying process requires a lot more than swinging by an open house. It’s hugely helpful – not to mention reassuring – to have someone on your team who knows the ropes, can let you know what to expect as the home-buying process moves along and is there to answer your questions.
The bidding and buying process tends to move quickly in hotter markets, so having an agent is hugely helpful so you don’t miss a beat.
You can check out our website to find an agent, and make sure to interview a few agents to find someone you enjoy working with.
2. Stay in touch with your agent.
Make sure to keep your agent in the loop about your thought process so they can send you the right listings and keep you updated on trends they’re seeing. Instead of juggling texts and emails, remember that you can communicate with your agent directly through Homesnap to keep the conversation all in one place. With our built-in messenger, you can easily share listings you love and chat back and forth.
3. Figure out your deal-breakers and potential compromises.
Especially in a hot housing market, you’ll need to make quick decisions about new listings, so be sure to have intentional conversations with your agent (and any home-buying partners) about what you want. Which neighborhoods will you consider? What price range are you comfortable with? Make sure to get on the same page about your absolute must-haves and definite no-gos.
And if you change your mind during your search, don’t be afraid to change your search filters. Maybe you’ve wanted a three-bedroom, but a two-bedroom with an outdoor workshop would work. Maybe a longer commute is okay if it means a lake view. You can use our Draw Your Own Search function if your search isn’t covered by traditional filters and you want to literally draw out the search boundaries.
4. Learn what a “competitive offer” looks like in a hot real estate market like yours.
The unwritten “rules” are different everywhere. In the Bay Area, some buyers are making video-testimonial “love letters” for sellers. In Seattle, buyers are paying for pre-inspections before placing offers and then waiving their inspection contingencies.
Ask your agent all the questions that you need to get a full picture of what it takes to win, and then figure out what makes sense for you.
5. Find ways to keep up your morale.
The process may take longer than you’d hoped, so invest in self-care to keep you going – including setting aside time for activities besides house-hunting. Maybe that means a lunch or coffee date in each new neighborhood you consider, or a stop by a playground after each morning of open houses. Communicate with your agent about availability and remember that it will all be worth it once you land in a new home.