This article offers five helpful tips for Seattle home buyers who are planning to enter the real estate market in 2018.
Top 5 Tips for Seattle Home Buyers in 2018
Despite what you might have heard about home prices “cooling” in 2018, the Seattle real estate market is still red-hot in terms of competition. But home buyers can still succeed in this market. Here’s how to get off on the right foot.
1. Balance your expectations against the realities of the market.
Home buyers tend to go into the market with an extensive wish list of features, location, etc. That’s fine, as long as you balance those expectations with the realities of the housing market. And the reality, as we enter 2018, is that the Seattle real estate market is very competitive.
In January, Zillow examined the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. to create a list of the “hottest” real estate markets. Not surprisingly, Seattle was ranked third. The group’s analysts looked at a variety of factors including home value changes, population growth and employment.
And then there’s the inventory situation. A “balanced” real estate market has somewhere around five or six months worth of supply. But at the start of 2018, Seattle had less than a one-month supply of homes for sale. That’s a serious inventory crunch, and it underscores the importance of having realistic expectations when buying a home.
2. Aim to make the first offer, and make it a strong one.
Buyers are lining up for homes in the Seattle area – literally, in some cases. So it’s crucial to stay on top of the market. As a home buyer, you want to review the big real estate listing websites once or twice a day. And be ready to pounce when the right house comes along. Try to get your offer in as quickly as possible, and make sure it’s a strong offer backed up by comparable sales data. An experienced real estate agent can help with this.
3. Consider the surrounding area.
A lot of home buyers want to purchase a house in Seattle but simply can’t afford it. That’s understandable, given that the median home value for the city rose above $700,000 last year. And while price growth has slowed a bit, house values are expected to continue moving north over the coming months.
But there are relative bargains to be found in the surrounding cities and communities. Check out the median home values in some of the cities surrounding Seattle, and you’ll be surprised by how much prices drop off.
4. Conduct a comprehensive search.
In a competitive real estate market like Seattle, home buyers need to pull every possible thread when searching for a property. Viewing the real estate listing websites is a good place to start. But don’t stop there.
Find a good agent who can help you spot properties before they hit the market, through word-of-mouth. Use your social network (friends, families and coworkers) to get a jumpstart on properties that might be coming onto the market soon.
Drive through your desired neighborhoods and look for those for-sale signs. Some sellers put up a sign but don’t list their properties online. In short, be aggressive.
5. Have your financing arranged ahead of time.
This is a topic we’ve written about before, but it bears repeating. In 2018, Seattle home buyers would be wise to have their financing lined up ahead of time, before entering the market.
Remember, current market conditions favor sellers or buyers. So anyone selling a home in Seattle can be picky and selective as it relates to financing. Among other things, they will expect buyers to have their financing all set up. This is one of several reasons why it’s a good idea to get pre-approved by a mortgage company, early on in the process.