Choose a Good Local Agent
Our market is so competitive at some price points and in some neighborhoods that you must have an agent constantly checking the listings. Your agent must be able to show you the houses as they come on the market, often within hours of when they first hit MLS. If your agent can’t make the commitment to show immediately, choose an agent who works with a team who has someone who can help you right away.
Get Set Up on an Automated MLS Search with Your Agent
Do not rely on outdated listing information from third party websites. Instead, ask your agent to set you up a personalized search for homes in our area. Through our MLS system you can receive information daily or immediately as new listings go into the MLS. With this notification system you and your agent can devise a plan to help you see new listings immediately, and you will be less likely to miss out on a good buying opportunity because the house you love is under contract.
Get Prequalified with a Lender
How heartbreaking to find that perfect property and not have a prequalification letter ready! No wise seller will take your offer seriously without your agent sending along your mortgage prequalification letter with an offer. Be sure your agent has a copy of your prequalification letter before you start actually viewing properties. Get your special online search set up with your agent and look at the outside of the homes you like while you are getting your prequalification letter. If you do not have a favorite mortgage lender, ask your Realtor to recommend one. Experienced, local lenders can meet with you face to face to help you, answering questions, solving problems and keeping your transaction moving forward in a way that is not possible for a less personal, out of town lender.
Make Reasonable Offers
The less expensive the home in our market, the more competition from other buyers for move-in ready homes. Maybe you are wondering what are the price points for looking at homes differently in our Saginaw area market. Chelden homes builds new homes in the Spring Creek subdivision in Saginaw for about $150,000. This is the price point at which buyers can begin to be a little more choosy when looking at homes. New construction costs about $200,000 in Saginaw Springs and in Creekwood new homes cost more than $300,000. When the prices of older homes approach the costs of new construction, the houses generally stay on the market longer and buyers can choose houses in these price ranges more carefully. Also the buyers can ask for more closing costs help and more price reductions in price ranges where there is less price competition. Even in these higher price ranges, please remember that many of these sellers do not have much equity, and they cannot afford to lower their prices very much. Often the sellers bought their houses from the builders at the height of the housing market boom and paid the builders extra for upgrades, therefore, they still have large mortgages to pay off when they sell their houses.
The average house in the Saginaw market sold recently for 99% of list price. If you really want the house you have just seen, have your agent prepare you a careful market analysis and tell you about other houses that sold in the area and their sold prices, condition and amenities. Most sellers will negotiate; therefore, it is customary for sellers to pay some closing costs with a full price offer if they have enough equity, but do not be afraid to pay full price if the house is for sale for the right price. If you think you would like to purchase one of the homes in the lower price range, such as $100,000 to $140,000, you will probably want to be aggressive as a purchaser. Be ready to make that offer as soon as possible! It's very discouraging to go and look at houses and then find one after another after another that is already under contract. Remember that you will have an option period in which to change your mind. You pay for ten days in which you can have an inspection and change your mind for any reason. If you decide you do not like the house for any reason during this time, the earnest money will be returned to you, but the seller can keep your option money. The option money pays the seller for taking his house off the market during the option period. My buyers use the option period as part of their strategy in this difficult market. A buyer is allowed to have an option on more than one home at a time. In fairness to the sellers, the buyer who plans to buy one home should withdraw from the option contract for her second choice immediately after getting verification that the contract on her favorite house has been executed.
This has been a hard market for Saginaw area buyers, especially when many had the idea that they could buy homes at foreclosure prices they saw advertised just months ago. In those days buyers could ask for sellers to give deep discounts and pay many of their closing costs. Those days are gone! Of course, great houses come on the market, but these homes are fewer, and buyers must act fast to take advantage of good opportunities
Have Your Move Planned
If you can move quickly or if you can stay longer in your present home, you can accommodate the seller’s moving plans better, and in a seller’s market this can be very important. Sometimes the moving date is a major issue for the seller. If you are in a rental property, investigate whether you can stay in your rental a little longer or move-out early. Maybe you are selling your present home. Talk to your buyer’s agent about writing your purchase offer as a contingency. Can you make plans to stay with family or friends for a short time to accomodate the seller if your moves can’t be coordinated perfectly?
Be Ready to Compete with Multiple Offers
Multiple offers are common in our current market. If you are in a multiple offer situation, plan carefully what makes sense for you for your final offer. Ask your buyer’s agent to provide you with up to date comparable sales, and do not pay too much in the heat of competition. On the other hand, a small increase in price to buy a home you really love where you will live for many years can bring you pleasure for a long time. In this market it could be months before you see another house you really like. Do not be too discouraged when you learn that a home has multiple offers, because you don't know if the other offer is a good offer or a very low investor’s offer.
- Kathleen Wheeler -