Talk to any real estate agent or anybody that has purchased a home in the last couple of months and they will tell you it’s a tough market right now. Even though it’s a good time to buy, the inventory of houses in Raleigh is very low and it makes the process of buying a home a little more challenging. The News & Observer recently reported, “While home sales in May were 60 percent higher than they were four years ago, inventory levels over that period plummeted 41 percent.” If you are thinking about purchasing a house in Raleigh this year, here are some tips to help you save time and have a more successful search.
Prepare to Act Quickly
It doesn’t take long to notice that there are a lot more people looking to purchase homes in Raleigh than homes available for sale. Open houses are busy, house showings are open to several buyers at a time, houses are selling at a record rate, and multiple offer situations are almost expected. That’s why it’s especially important not to drag your feet during the home buying process. If you do, when you come around to making a decision on a house, it will most likely be under contract. And instead of picturing yourself moving into the house you love, you’ll be left scratching your head wondering what just happened.
Acting quickly when it comes to a purchase of this magnitude isn’t always easy, but here are a couple of things that will help. The first thing you want to do is get pre-approved for a mortgage, not just pre-qualified. Take it one step further and submit documentation to the lender so they can issue a pre-approval letter. This is an important step in any market condition, but especially when there is low inventory. When you are ready to make an offer on a house, you don’t want to be in the situation of tracking down your mortgage broker at 9:00 pm on a Saturday night. Your real estate agent needs a copy of your approval letter upfront so they can present it with an offer without delay. Sellers typically expect to see a pre-approval letter with an offer so that they know the deal isn’t going to fall through because of financing.
Do Your Homework Up-front
Another important step is to determine what is the highest priority with your house purchase. This may sound simple, but way too many people start their house search without digging deep and asking themselves what they truly need and want. They go into the process with the mindset that they will figure it out as they go. This is a recipe for a lot of wasted time and frustration. Before you even start looking at houses, you need to sit down with your real estate agent and answer the following questions:
- What features and options are you looking for? Which items are you not willing to compromise on and which ones can you live without? Also, think about your lifestyle and if there is anything that could make your life easier? For example, making sure the washer is on the same floor as all of the bedrooms. Don’t forget to think of those things you don’t like about your current or past houses. Are there things that are deal breakers? If you are married or in a partnership, share your list with your spouse. You may find your significant other’s priorities are different than yours. Knowing what is important to you before you even step foot into the first house will make your process so much more efficient.
- Narrow down your price range. Even though your lender says you’re approved for “X” amount, determine your price range by working backwards. Figure out what you can comfortably afford each month for your mortgage. Then you and your agent can use that number to back into a price range while incorporating the costs for taxes, insurance, homeowner association dues, etc. If you skip this step you’ll waste a lot of time looking at houses you won’t end up buying, but more importantly, you’ll fall in love with a house that you can’t afford. This is the last thing you want to happen and it could ruin your whole buying experience.
- Narrow down the location you want to live in. It’s not enough to just say, “I want to live in North Raleigh.” A lot of different things can determine where you live: commute to work, schools, proximity to shopping, price range. Figure out what’s important to you and decide on a specific area. If you have lived in Raleigh for a while, this may be fairly easy. If you are still getting to know Raleigh or moving to the area, then this may take some research. Your agent should be able to recommend areas for you based on your priorities, but if you are considering an area you are unfamiliar with, it’s a good idea to drive around and see it first hand before looking at any houses.
Get the Home You Want and Enjoy Your Buying Experience
Doing your preparation and applying the processes above will accomplish these three things that will ensure that you purchase a home that best fits your needs and will remove the stresses that are usually associated with buying a house.
- It will save you a ton of time. Digging deep and narrowing down what you are looking for eliminates looking at countless houses that you might have viewed otherwise. Granted, you may have to adjust your criteria a little as you go through the process, but you’ll be way ahead of a lot of people just by taking the time to give it some serious thought from the beginning.
- It will allow you to respond quicker. Now that you have done your homework, you will only be looking at houses that have a good likelihood of fitting your needs. This increases your odds that once you find your perfect home, you’ll be one of the first to see it and the first to make an offer! This can also decrease your chances that you will be in a multiple offer situation.
- Lastly, it will make the home buying process easier and will increase your chances of getting the house you truly want. We all know that buying a house is one of the more stressful things in life. The part that makes it stressful is the financial commitment. By getting pre-approved and determining an affordable monthly payment upfront, you will be comfortable knowing you aren’t over-extending yourself. Consequently, you will be more confident with your decision when you find “the one” and will be ready to make a quick purchasing decision.
Enjoy your search for your new house. Contact iDEAL Property Group if you would like one of our experienced agents to partner with you through the buying process. We can help find the perfect house while making the process as stress-free as possible.