How Can Moms Buy Homes Their Kids Will Love In A Tight Seller’s Market?
Many of us dream of owning our own homes. But with the economy the way it is, that seems like something that is slipping through our fingers. Whereas once rising home ownership among families was the norm, today there’s a definite trend back to renting.
Things are being made even more difficult for moms trying to climb their way up the first rung of the housing ladder thanks to an ever-tightening seller’s market. Sellers, it seems, have all the power.
A report from the National Association of Realtors recently found that the supply rate up until the beginning of the year was just 4.4 months. Just so that you know, a supply rate of 6 months would indicate a balanced market. And so right now new house supply appears to be falling roughly 25 percent behind demand.
For those families wanting to get on the property ladder, this is bad news. It means that it is actually getting harder, not easier, for parents to find great places for their kids to grow up. But is there anything moms can do? Are we just helpless? Do we just have to accept what’s happening? Or can we fight back?
It turns out that fighting is an option. According to real estate agent Mary Hebert, getting a great home for your family involves a bit of strategy. She says that prices are still negotiable, and there are all sorts of tactics that people can employ to increase their chances of bagging the home they want.
Don’t Text Or Email
With the rise of technology, many families are using text and email to make offers on houses. But according to experts, this is a bad tactic. In a tight seller’s market, sellers can just ignore the vast majority of communications they receive. They have their pick of buyers and can sell to whomsoever they want, usually at a price that’s good for them.
Buyers, therefore, need to have one-on-one contact with a seller, either directly, or through an agent. The reason for this is to find out what it is that motivates the seller: is there anything that’ll make them more likely to sell to you than another buyer? Usually, you’ll find that they want their homes to go to a good place. After all, homes tend to have tremendous sentimental value. That puts families like yours at an advantage, especially over investment buyers.
Get Your Finances Sorted First
Turning up to buy a property, but not having your finances in order first can be a disaster. There’s no point trying to enter a seller’s market without the money to backup your intentions. A few months before you want to buy, start collecting credit reports. These reports should tell you whether you’re an attractive candidate or not. If your score is below 700, you’ll need to work hard to improve it. There are all sorts of ways of improving your credit score which we don’t need to go into here. But suffice to say, those with better scores are more likely to get the homes they want.
Most sellers want to see “proof and funds” as well. That means bank statements detailing information like how much your family earns in a given month and how many savings you have to put down on deposit. In some cases, you may be able to begin the underwriting before the house is sold – something which can shorten the length of time it takes to close the deal.
Find Out How Much You Can Afford
Once you’ve sorted your finances, the next step is to work out how much you can afford to pay for a new home. In other words, what kind of mortgage can your income support?
That might sound like quite a challenge, but it turns out that there are all sorts of tools out there on the internet you can use. Find a home loan calculator, enter the amount you’d like to borrow, for how long and the interest rate you’ll pay, and it’ll give you the monthly payment amounts. You can then compare this to what you’re paying for housing right now. If you’re paying $1000 a month in rent, then you can afford perhaps a $900 a month mortgage. The reason you should go lower on mortgage repayments is that when you own your own home, you’re also responsible for all the upkeep, which can get expensive when averaged across the year.
Don’t forget to factor in things like job promotions and increased pay in the future. A home that seems unaffordable right now may become affordable when you switch jobs and get a higher income.
Make Offers, Even If It Appears That A Home Has Sold
Sometimes, families find what they think is their dream home, only to later discover that it’s already been bought by someone else. Is it too late to put in an offer? According to real estate experts, it’s not. The reason is that a large proportion of home sales fall through, often because the buyer pulls out at the last minute.
Having an offer on the table for the seller to consider immediately puts you at an advantage. Sellers who lose sales at the last moment usually aren’t best pleased. Once a sale has fallen through, they usually just want to sell their home and move on. And so if you’re ready and willing to buy with a backup offer, that puts you in a very good position indeed.
Put Your Best Offer Forward
Some families might be tempted to put forward low offers to try to negotiate down the price of a house. But in a tight seller’s market, this tactic rarely works. The problem is that sellers have their pick of buyers, which usually means that somebody is able to make a better offer than you. The best thing to do – for both you and your kids – is to put forward your best possible offer. This means that even if you don’t win the house, you know you did the best you could with the income you have available.
Be Honest About The Cost Of Upkeep
When the market is competitive among buyers, sellers have less incentive to do upkeep on their homes. As a result, the quality of housing stock tends to decline the longer there is a seller’s market. It just doesn’t pay to renovate the kitchen or repair the roof when buyers have such little choice.
Buyers, therefore, need to factor in the higher cost of repairing any new home they may buy. They also need to make sure that they have a proper survey of the house done before making the final decision to part with their money. Inspectors will be able to identify serious structural problems with the home, warning you of any potential large bills down the road.
Beware: Photos Can Undersell A House
Most people aren’t photographers. As a result, their pictures of their properties can be a little bit lackluster. It’s important, though, to note that just because the photos are bad doesn’t mean that the house isn’t good for you and your family.
Try, if you can, to look beyond the poor quality of photos to determine whether the house actually meets the needs of your growing family. If it does on an objective basis, then it’s probably worth a visit to see whether it really is as bad as it looks in the photos. Interior photos tend to be especially poor if rooms are not well lit.