I think it is important for buyers to start thinking about what they need to do to be ready for a more active and competitive market.
Here is what I suggest you do if you are going to enter the market at this time. Select a REALTOR® who is an EXCLUSIVE Buyer Agent, knows the market, knows the Vineyard and knows the business --- that would be me. Put together a list of ‘Wants’ and ‘Needs’ because that exercise will help to keep you focused and decide upon a realistic price range. I will address that further in a moment.
Become familiar with the inventory by getting access to the LINK database system and not by wasting time combing through 3rd party aggregator websites like Trulia or Zillow. Communication with your trusted Exclusive Buyer Agent is the best way to gain an education so that when you are ready to buy, you can recognize a well-priced property.
Preview as many properties that are relevant to what you are looking for so you can get a good sense of home values. Keep in mind that your EXCLUSIVE Buyer Agent is an expert in the field of real estate; he/she is not an attorney, a licensed contractor or home inspector or an engineer. Therefore, discuss with your EXCLUSIVE Buyer Agent putting together a professional team of ‘experts’ to assist you during the home buying process.
Knowing what is a realistic price range means knowing how much house you can really afford. So, if getting a mortgage is a necessary part of the home buying equation for you then you need to establish a relationship early on with a mortgage professional and get yourself pre-approved with a pre-approval letter prepared. There is a difference between a pre-approval and a pre-qualification. The pre-qualification is very superficial and will mean nothing to a Seller during a negotiation. The pre-approval is a powerful card your EXCLUSIVE Buyer Agent can play at the appropriate time during a negotiation.
Here is a really important negotiating point to keep in mind. If you are in a competing offer situation you want to make sure your offer is as attractive as you can possibly make it. First and foremost, a negotiation will be all about the money so make sure your offer is your ‘highest and best’ offer. Next, make sure your offer is as ‘clean’ as you can make it. This means only include the contingencies that are absolutely necessary or even better submit an offer without any contingencies. Personally, I will rarely recommend that one of my clients submit an offer without an inspection contingency or a financing contingency (if they will be applying for a mortgage). Of course the strongest offer is the one that is ‘all cash’.
If all cash is not an option then being able to provide a minimum 20% down payment is the next best thing, or as much of a down payment beyond that as possible. Finally, you should be prepared to be as flexible as possible to accommodate the seller’s time frame and as far as your due diligence is concerned remember ‘TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE IN ALL MATTERS’.
A professional experienced EXCLUSIVE Buyer Agent will be able to make the process fun and easy and keep you on track – that EXCLUSIVE Buyer Agent should be ME!