The Seattle real estate market is currently very competitive. Limited inventory and strong demand have forced home buyers to compete fiercely for desirable properties, and these conditions could carry over into 2017.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t find a suitable home. It just means you need to bring your ‘A’ game. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
How to Buy a Home in the Seattle Sellers’ Market
Here are five tips for buying a home in a sellers’ market like Seattle, Washington.
1. Research home prices before you enter the market.
Research is an important, but often overlooked, preliminary step to buying a home. It’s even more important when you’re trying to buy a house in a sellers’ market. A well-informed home buyer is able to move quickly when the right property comes along. And that’s where you want to be when you enter the Seattle housing market.
Start by looking at home prices in the area(s) where you want to buy. Pay particular attention to sales prices — as opposed to listing prices — as these are a better indicator of true market conditions. This kind of research will pay off when it comes time to submit an offer of your own. It will also help you validate the seller’s asking price.
Fortunately, this kind of information is readily available online. You can find recent sales prices on Realtor.com, Zillow or Trulia. Remember to zero in on the particular area, or areas, where you want to buy.
2. Get pre-approved for a loan before house hunting.
Most Seattle home buyers use mortgage loans when purchasing a house. If you fall into this category, it would be wise to get pre-approved for a loan before you start house hunting. Having your financing lined up ahead of time gives you a much-needed advantage when buying a home in a sellers’ market like Seattle.
Pre-approval is when a mortgage lender examines your income, assets and debts to determine how much they are willing to lend you. It’s a kind of pre-screening process, and it offers several benefits:
- Mortgage pre-approval allows you to focus your home search on properties you can actually afford, saving you time and energy.
- It will make real estate agents more willing to work with you. Many Seattle agents will only work with buyers who’ve been pre-approved by a lender.
- Sellers will take your offer seriously, if it’s supported with a pre-approval letter.
- Sellers will be more likely to accept your offer, when compared to a buyer who hasn’t been screened by a lender yet.
In short, mortgage pre-approval can help you buy a home in the competitive Seattle sellers’ market.
3. Make a strong first offer by reviewing comparable sales.
Making a low offer in a competitive housing market could cause your dream home to slip through your fingers. That’s a frustrating situation to be in. So make sure your first offer is a strong one.
This is where your advanced market research will pay off. In fact, you’ll want to do another round of research each time you’re about to make an offer. Start by reviewing recent home sales for similar properties in the area where you are buying. This is what real estate agents refer to as comparable sales, or “comps.” Reviewing comps is the first and most important step to making a smart offer on a home.
Making a strong offer is key when buying a home in a sellers’ market like Seattle. This is an area where you’ll want to lean on your real estate agent. They are experts in competitive market analysis. An experienced agent can do a quick comp analysis on the spot, right after you’ve visited a home for sale. That’s the kind of flexibility and efficiency you need in a competitive real estate market.
4. Narrow the market to improve your efficiency.
We touched on mortgage pre-approval earlier. That’s one way to narrow down the market when house hunting. By getting pre-approved, you’ll be able to focus your home search on properties that are within your buying power. This is crucial in a fast-moving, competitive sellers’ market like Seattle, Washington.
You can also save time and improve efficiency by screening homes online first. Looking at photos, virtual tours, and property descriptions is a great way to rule out properties that don’t meet your criteria. It will shorten your viewing list, and increase your chance of finding the right house.
5. Don’t lose the home over “nickels and dimes.”
First-time home buyers sometimes get wrapped up in the emotional aspects of the buying process, losing sight of what’s really important. The thing to remember is that real estate transactions are business — they’re not personal.
Letting emotions get in the way could cloud your judgment at best, and cost you your dream home at worst. So keep a level head at all times.
Think of it this way:
- The seller wants to sell the home for the highest possible price.
- The buyer wants to get it for the lowest possible price.
- But both parties want the deal to go through.
The idea is to find common ground so things can move forward.
If you negotiate the sale price to a reasonable amount based on current market conditions, it’s time to close the deal. Excessive haggling could cost you the home. So keep the big picture in mind, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Research the local housing market. Get your financing squared away ahead of time. And move swiftly with a strong, well-researched offer. These are the keys to buying a home in the Seattle sellers’ market.
Get Pre-Approved for a Loan Today
Do you plan to buy a home in Seattle sometime soon? We can help you increase your chance of success by pre-approving you for a loan.
Sammamish Mortgage has been helping home buyers in Washington State for more than 20 years, and we welcome the opportunity to help you as well. We offer many different types of home loans, including FHA, VA and conventional.