Savvy home buyers know that winter is typically a good time to embark on a house hunt, since much of their competition stays holed up at home until spring.
But this winter, buyers might notice that despite the cold and the holidays, they’ve got company.
In fact, lots of company. Certainly more than I have seen in all my 15 years as a local Realtor.
“Normally winter is a good time for buyers,” says realtor.com® chief economist Danielle Hale. However, since the coronavirus kept buyers on lockdown for much of Spring, many are making up for lost time by home shopping hard right now.
“This year’s unusual seasonal pattern means that Buyers aren’t getting the usual break from the market frenzy that they typically do in the cooler weather,” Hale explains.
As a result, this winter is shaping up to be a seller’s market, with low real estate inventory, high prices, and bidding wars that could give buyers a major run for their money.
This doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel—just that you’ll have to hone your house hunt in new ways to suit the times. Also, make sure you hire an experienced Realtor who can help guide you through our fast paced local market. To get under contract you’ll need a strategy for seeing homes quickly, writing your competitive offer, and moving forward through your contract.
Here are some tactics that will keep you ahead of the pack so you’ll be sitting in a new home by the new year:
Secure your financing as soon as possible
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage and securing financing are an essential first step when buying a home. It gives you a clear picture of how much house you can afford, and lets you make an offer as soon as you find your dream home.
You’re lender is a part of the team who is going to help you get under contract. So it’s important to work with a local lender, who is well respected, responsive, and a good communicator. I’m happy to refer you to some local lenders I trust to help get you started.
Starting early could also help you lock in an ultralow interest rate, which could affect your monthly mortgage payment and mean you could afford a more expensive home. As of Oct. 22, Freddie Mac listed rates at 2.8% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan.
Know what you want before you house hunt
COVID-19 has changed how we live and work. We’re spending much more time at home, and people are looking for different features in their living spaces.
Make a list of your must-haves before you start house shopping—and share your needs with your real estate agent. In such a competitive landscape, knowing exactly what you want enables you to act fast when you want to make an offer.
Tour homes virtually first
More real estate agents are embracing virtual tours and remote showings to ease coronavirus safety concerns. In some cases, they’re even limiting in-person showings to the most serious buyers—those with financing already secured, for example.
Virtual home tours, using Zoom or FaceTime, let you view the home from anywhere, and depending on the setup, you might be able to ask questions in real time. So you can narrow down the homes you’re most interested in and physically visit only the ones that best meet your needs.
Most importantly, don’t dawdle if you want to make an offer.
In September, there were nearly 40% fewer homes on the market than during the same month last year, according to a realtor.com report. At the same time, buyer demand has increased, creating an incredibly competitive marketplace. Homes were on the market for an average of 54 days in September, 12 fewer days than last year.
Make your offer stand out
Since inventory is so low, sellers are getting multiple offers on their homes these days. To make sure yours gets accepted, you’ll need to make it stand out.
For competitive markets, where you know you’ll be competing directly with many Buyers, in our Buyer Meeting we’ll be talking about the variety of ways you can compete throughout the contract. Getting under contract in Denver means giving Buyers the opportunity to inspect the home but also removing as many potential speed bumps from the Seller’s journey as possible. We’ll discuss things like timeline, appraisal gap coverage, escalation clause, limited inspection, etc. Sometimes something as simple as covering a couple hundred dollar fee in the contract makes you stand out to the Sellers as the most sincere Buyer looking to cross the finish line and it can make all the difference. I not only negotiate for my clients but they way I write my contract negotiates for my clients.
The ways each Buyer can negotiate in our local Colorado market is dependent on the comfort level of the Buyer using certain tactics. For example offering a 60 day post closing occupancy is something that might make your offer win, some Buyers have a flexible moving situation and will easily be able to offer this, others might be able to offer a week or no post closing occupancy. I’m excited to talk to you about your next move!