Arts & Leisure

Real estate advice: Act fast

JEFF OLSON

I’m looking to buy a home but everything is snatched up so quickly! What should I do?
 
As my wife would say, “You snooze you lose!” 
This is a very tough market for buyers and my heart goes out to you. Housing inventory is extremely low thanks in large part to rock-bottom mortgage rates, meaning there are many more people qualified to buy a house, and many more people now able to buy “more” house than they might have been able to just a few years ago. Plus, we’ve had three to four years in a row of robust activity, further reducing the number of houses available.
My advice to you: first, visit a lender so you know how much you can borrow. Sellers and their agents will expect a pre-qualification or, even better, a pre-approval letter, accompanying the offer. Second, understand the marketplace by viewing as many houses as you can that broadly meet your criteria. I tell buyers it’s like looking at the menu — it helps you narrow down your true wants and needs, and you’ll gain an understanding of value. Third, have a really good idea of what you want in a house — location, style, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, amount of land, etc. 
When such a house appears appears, pounce. 
If it’s a desirable property, you can expect additional offers. (I had eight offers on a property recently.) Like a good chess player, therefore, think a few moves ahead. If you are asked for your “highest and best” offer, what might that be? How high can you go, but more importantly, how high do you want to go? I believe that good things come to those who wait, so unless you have to find a house quickly for any reason, sometimes it’s best to keep your powder dry for another day. Good luck!
— Jeff Olson, Addison County Real Estate

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