Do you plan to buy your first home in Tacoma, Washington in 2017? If so, you’ll find the following collection of tips helpful. They were written specifically for first-time home buyers in Tacoma, and are fully updated for 2017.
Update on the Local Real Estate Market
Like other cities in the Seattle metro area, Tacoma has experienced significant home price gains over the last couple of years. According to the housing analysts at Zillow, house values in the city rose by a whopping 13% from April 2016 to April 2017. That’s the first thing you need to know, as a first-time home buyer in Tacoma. Home prices have risen in recent years, and they continue to rise.
Inventory is another important subject. The number of homes for sale in Tacoma, and across the Seattle area, has fallen steadily over the last five years. Meanwhile, there’s still a lot of demand for housing. This imbalance means there are a lot of buyers in the market, but not enough homes to go around. First-time buyers in Tacoma should be prepared for competition in 2017.
Tips for First-Time Home Buyers in Tacoma
We’ve written volumes about the home buying and mortgage process. But you’re in a hurry, so we’ve collected and condensed seven of our most important tips for first-time home buyers in Tacoma.
1. Create a budget: Budgeting forces you to think about your income, expenses and financial goals, as they relate to the home buying process. The goal here is to find out how much you can afford to spend each month on you housing costs, so you can stay within that range when shopping for a home.
2. Research the market: Before entering the real estate market, spend some time researching housing trends in Tacoma. We’ve given you a market update above, to help you get started. But don’t stop there. Do as much research as you can.
3. Review home prices: First-time home buyers sometimes go into the market with a false sense of what they can get for the money. This can result in disappointment, frustration, and wasted time. To avoid this, research sales prices in the area where you want to buy. Pay particular attention to recent sales that fall within your price range. This will help you move forward with realistic expectations, and will also help you shape your offer when the time comes.
4. Get an agent: Tacoma real estate agents have access to tools and information that can help you find a home faster. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is one such tool. Agents can also leverage their professional networks to learn about homes that are about to hit the market. Additionally, your agent can help you evaluate the seller’s asking price and make a smart offer based on market conditions.
5. Get pre-approved: Mortgage pre-approval is like a financial pre-screening process. It helps you identify a price range for house hunting purposes. Having a pre-approval letter from a mortgage company also shows sellers that you’re serious about buying their home. This can increase the likelihood that they’ll accept your offer. Contact us if you’d like to start the pre-approval process.
6. Be open-minded: Housing inventory in Tacoma is tight right now. This is true for the entire Seattle metro area. So you might not get everything you want in your first home. You’ll have to be realistic about distinguishing between “wants” and “needs.” Here’s a rule of thumb: If you find a home that checks most of the boxes on your list, and it falls within your budget, it’s a contender!
7. Have the home inspected: Home inspections aren’t always required, but they’re still a smart idea. The inspector will examine the house inside and out, pointing out any issues he finds. These inspections usually cost a few hundred dollars, which is a small price to pay for peace of mind.