The best way to describe today's housing market is: CRAZY. Houses are selling in a day or even before they are officially listed. There are multiple offers on just average homes and a lot of the normal terms you might see on a contract now may make an offer undesirable for a seller. So how does today's buyer make all the fast decisions they need to make and still make sure they don't regret their purchase? Here are a few things that may help:
1. Know Your Budget (and stick with it) - Before you even begin your house hunting journey, take a look at your budget NOW and know what you can (and can't) afford even before you talk to your Lender. Whatever budget you have now, if you can pay all of your bills without creating debt and you even have money to save, then that is a similar budget you want to have in your next home. Be careful because you may qualify for more than you are currently paying, but if you still want the same quality of living you better keep things in check. Also, if you are currently renting, you will need to figure in those maintenance costs you haven't been paying into the equation. It's best to always have on hand about $1000 per $100,000 in a house. So if your home is $300,000, save about $3000 so you always have enough on hand for emergencies. If you have your budget all ready to go, then you know what you can look at home-wise and what you can't.
2. Be Realistic - If you are going to be buying in this market, you may have to pay a bit over asking price if there are other offers on the table for a home. Keep that in mind when you are looking at homes. If you find a home that is at the very top of what you can spend, then be prepared you may not get that house in a bidding war if you have no room for negotiation. Also in this market, if you want to see a home in person, I suggest you only see those you are really serious about and then you need to try to get in as soon as possible or at least have a virtual showing with your agent. Waiting even a couple of days can ruin your chances at even being able to make an offer especially if what you are looking for is a very popular price point. Window shopping days, when it comes to shopping for a home, are in the past. Most agents don't have the time to just go "check out" a place every time you ask because you want to, especially if it doesn't meet your criteria or price point. One other thing you need to be realistic about is that there are no perfect homes and not just one home may work for you. It's not like on TV when everything just falls into place and you have the perfectly decorated home at the end of everything. Usually it's finding what is the best for you out of what is available to you.
3. Needs Before Wants - Before you start shopping, make a list of what your "needs" for a home are and what your "wants" for a home are. Even if a house doesn't have all the "wants" if it has your "needs" then you CAN live in it. For instance if a home is perfectly new, with all new appliances and all the perfect fixtures, but it has one bedroom and you have three kids, well no matter how much you jut WANT that stand up shower, that house will NOT work for you. At All. At least not for any length of time. (Think being on a vacation with a big family and a tiny cabin. One week may be okay, but years not so much!). I have actually heard people being willing to give up having a second bathroom just because something looks "so cute". It won't be so cute after a while if family members are fighting over bathroom time--and they will be especially if they are moving from a place where they have been used to more than one bathroom. Needs are the most important. Concentrate on those. More than likely a few "wants" may show up as well!
4. Trust Your Agent - Another big way to avoid buyer's remorse when it comes to buying a house right now is to find a recommended, seasoned agent and then TRUST their recommendations. They know how to navigate this market the best since they are doing it every day. When they talk to you and get to know you, they may see something in a property that you can't see that will work great for you. Remember they look at all sorts of houses for a living--all the time. They are built to see past just cosmetic things and to know if a home is built well or not--for the most part. Chances are they will know the agent on the other side and even know how to work with that agent to help ensure you are getting the best service you can during your transaction. A good agent will warn you if something is overpriced and they will also tell you if they think your offer is a good one or not. They also know what tactics do and don't work when in a negotiation. For instance, starting with a bottom of the barrel offer may have been a way in the past to get the seller to work with you. Now a seller doesn't even need to pay attention to that offer because there is someone else with a better deal just waiting for their answer. Sellers today expect to get the best offers and best terms on a contract that is being given to them, so be prepared to do just that--if you expect to have an accepted offer at some point.
Buying a home today can be tricky. When you have to move fast you may feel like you haven't had enough time to be sure that is what you really want, however if you have prepared ahead of time with the things I have mentioned, then more than likely you will be prepared to jump when the time comes. As far a buyer's remorse goes, sometimes we find out a little too late that what we thought we "needed" we really didn't need at all. Even with all the things I mentioned, there may come a time when you do regret getting a certain house somewhere. That is okay. You will have learned something about yourself and what you really "need" and "want" even more so your next house hunting experience will be even better!--Jen Lush, Associate Broker