Avoid being burned, battling for a bungalow in wild real estate wars. Take a deep breath and follow these four simple tips for buying a home in the hot Seattle Market…or any market. Be more competitive, without risking your nest egg.
In a lot of ways, buying a home is no different than buying a car, a television, or a banana for that matter. You can learn a lot just by spending time in the market, whether that’s the supermarket, auto-row, or driving around your favorite neighborhood. You already know you’ll pay more for a banana in a fancy supper market than you will for one of equal quality in a discount store. It’s the same with houses. An adorable two bedroom, two bath home in a popular Seattle area neighborhood will cost you twice as much as it will some distance outside of town. I recommend you spend some time just looking. Websites like ours or Zillow are great for getting a general sense of prices, but nothing compares to your own personal first hand experience. Pick a neighborhood you think you’ll like and then drive up and down the streets. Go to the local grocery store if you want a close up of your potential future neighbors.
It’s great fun to imagine yourself in one of the mansions along the waterfront, but if you’re not sure you have the means or desire to make that move, it’s best to contact a lender who can help you sort out your finances and identify a realistic budget. It’s a free service, and in the current Seattle market, it’s unlikely you will find any seller willing to consider your offer if it doesn’t include documentation that you have been pre-approved by a lender. Pre-approved is a stronger financial statement than simply pre-qualified. Pre-qualification indicates the lender believes your chances of securing a loan are favorable after a quick credit check or a conversation. Pre-approved means the bank is ready to write the check.
Remember what I said about shopping? Online tools can be very useful, but it’s important not to neglect the use of good old fashion professional help, especially for something so important as a major property purchase. Who would rely solely on Google to diagnose a serious illness rather than seeing a doctor? There’s always the temptation to take search results at face value, but it’s much wiser to consult with an informed professional who can integrate the information with that of other sources and use seasoned expertise to interpret the results. An experienced broker can help you determine accurate market value, construct your best possible offer, negotiate terms in your favor, ensure the quality of the property, and navigate the often confusing process from first site to closing, which is the finance and legal finale.
And remember, real estate agents are paid by the seller; the buyer pays nothing for their services. If you’re on the buying end of a property transaction, take the gift. A good agent is in touch daily with the market and in tune with the nuances of current market developments. However, I recommend you only work with someone you like. If you are concerned about your agent’s competence, integrity, or you simply are not completely at ease with them, find someone else. There are scores of great local brokers.
Be Prepared to Succeed
Attempts to purchase property typically fail because the buyer is not financially qualified, the property has a serious problem, or the offer is out-bid by a stronger or faster offer. You will have the best chance for success if you’re prepared. Know where you want to live, know what you’re looking for (often the hardest part), get your financials in order, and hire a competent agent who can champion your cause. Having a professional guide you through the search and purchase process, and to submit your qualified offer at the right time is much more likely to yield the best results.