Last week I shared about our shift into a seller's market. One of the things that has driven this shift is the surprisingly low inventory for this time of year. An obvious problem this creates for buyers is the difficulty in finding homes to choose from. As the market action index below shows, we have moved into a seller's market. How long this will be sustained nobody knows but in the meantime if you're looking for a home here are the top 10 ways you can find one.
1. Set up an automated search of MLS listings so you will be notified as soon as new listings come on the market . Most real estate firm websites update MLS data continuously throughout the day so it is typically not necessary to set up more than one reliable search. As an example Northstone Real Estate Inc. features Northstonehomesearch.com which gives buyers access to all listings on the MLS.
2. Find a broker that you can rely on that is well-connected to the marketplace. An experienced and well-established broker will have relationships that will lead to information about homes before they come on the market.
3. Ask your broker if they have "pocket listings." A pocket listing is a home the broker knows about that the owner would like to sell but is not ready to put on the MLS.
4. Ask your broker if they are familiar with "for sale by owner" homes in the area you are interested in. One of the concerns the broker may have is that some owners will not pay them a commission. Be prepared to have an honest and open discussion concerning this. Often times a for sale by owner will pay your broker a commission for bringing you to them as a "ready, willing and able buyer." In the event that the seller will not pay a commission it may be well worth it to pay them directly.
5. Ask your broker to research expired and canceled listings to see if any of the sellers are still interested in selling. Your broker can easily do this through the MLS to determine if there any of these homes that match your needs.
6. Search foreclosures. Again your broker can assist you with this process. There are numerous services available that will allow you to search upcoming auctions to determine if any of these homes might fit your needs. You do not have to spend money to subscribe to a service to do this. In most counties the notices of trustee sale are available online.
7. Consider approaching homeowners in the neighborhood that you like best. There are times in my career when I've gone door-to-door to talk to owners in a specific neighborhood my client is interested in and on several occasions I have located homes for them to buy. In some situations I've sent postcards and letters to owners to see if I can find someone interested in selling.
8. If you made an offer on a home and there were multiple offers and another offer won out, ask your broker to track that listing in case it comes back on the market. Even better ask your broker to call the listing agent to check the progress of the other transaction. If it looks like it is going to fail you will be in a better position to resubmit your offer.
9. Submit a backup offer. If there is a home you like that is a pending sale consider placing a backup offer. A backup offer is an agreement that in the event the first to sale fails you would then move into first position and be the buyer.
10. Think outside the box. If you've ever wanted to build your dream home perhaps now is the time. There are numerous building lots available and it is possible even within a modest price range to build a new home.
Some of these options may be out of the comfort zone for you or even some brokers. As the saying goes "where there's a will there's a way." In this market persistence pays off. One last bit of advice, don't get caught up in a buying frenzy and over pay for your new home. In a seller's market you may have to pay top dollar but make sure you know what top dollar is before you submit the offer . Next I will discuss how you, the buyer, can determine the right price to offer .
By Brian Leavitt, Designated Broker, Northstone Real Estate IncBrian has been a Real Estate Broker for more than 30 years and hashelped hundreds of buyers achieve their dream of how ownership.