It’s no secret that the housing market has been crazy lately, but only people who have gone shopping for a home this year truly understand how deep the rabbit hole goes. The prices on houses are super inflated, buyers are up against stiff competition and cash buyers, and there is just a limited amount of listings on the market from which to choose.
I spent about two and a half months searching for a new home this year, and I devoted a significant amount of time to it every single week (looking at listings online daily, touring homes in person about twice a week, and being very flexible with what I was looking for). Searching for a home felt like it became my part-time job for a while. But in the end, I was rewarded with success.
Buying a home in 2022 can feel impossible, but with some patience and a little bit of strategy, you will find the place you’re looking for! Check out part one of my post on buying a new home if you’re brand new to this process, but if you’ve been in it for a while and you’re starting to lose heart, keep these tips in mind:
- Don’t skip the realtor. I see sellers making this mistake because they’re trying to save some money at closing, but there is no reason for a buyer to skip the realtor. They have real estate connections that they’re ready to use for your benefit, they have access to tax reports and home history that you can’t find by yourself using Zillow, and they have invaluable experience and support from their real estate team that you just can’t do without. My real estate agent always called the seller’s agent for a chat whenever I found a home that I was interested in putting an offer on, and she was often able to find out 1) how many other offers were on the table, 2) what kind of offer the seller was looking for, and 3) whether we had a fighting chance or we should skip it and keep looking. One time my realtor made a phone call to the seller’s agent and learned that there weren’t as many offers on a particular house as we were expecting, and she advised me to lower what I was planning to offer. I came down on my offer, and wouldn’t you know it — my offer was accepted! If not for my realtor, I would have wasted so much time and money in my housing search.
- Be ready to make concessions. When I first began my search for a home, I was preoccupied with how much money over the asking price I should offer. After several rejected offers (one of which was $20,000 over asking price), I was becoming frustrated. I had to switch tactics and focus less on the price and more on the other contingencies in the offer. Was I willing to purchase the house as-is? Was I willing to forgo an inspection? Was I planning to ask the seller to leave their appliances or furniture behind? Was I willing to pay the difference if the house didn’t appraise as high as my offer? There are so many specifics to outline in a purchase offer, and more money doesn’t always make a more appealing offer. In my particular case, I was not willing to forgo an inspection, but offering to cover the appraisal gap may have been what gave me a leg above the competition.
- Don’t lose heart. It’s so easy to get set on a dream home and then give up when your offer gets rejected. There are things that you can do if you’re dead set on the one that got away; you can see if the seller is interested in accepting a back-up offer in case the pending sale falls through. However, it’s often a better use of your time to accept the rejection and move on. It can be disheartening when your offers get rejected over and over again. I made eight offers (in almost eight weeks) that were rejected before my ninth offer was finally accepted. The house that I finally got under contract was not the house that I was borderline obsessed with early on in my search. But I made a decision to prioritize staying within my budget and within a reasonable commute to work (rather than becoming house-poor or resentful of a super long daily drive), and I stuck with it. The house I got is a good one, and it will feel even more special after I fill it with furniture and decor and personalize it to my taste.
- Don’t let bad weather discourage you from looking at houses. I found my home during a snowy weekend when everyone was staying home. Bad weather may have worked in my favor!
- Look for homes that are about to hit the market soon. Have your realtor reach out to the seller’s agent and see if they’re open to early offers from buyers sight-unseen. It might sound crazy, but a lot of people these days are buying homes before they get to see them in person.
- Stay open-minded to look at houses within your budget that you’re not sure about. Sometimes a house doesn’t translate well on paper, but you might fall in love with it when you see it in person.
- Ask your realtor about what sorts of special addendums and contingencies can be added to your purchase offer. If you have a realtor who belongs to a group, it’s likely someone on their team has found success with a strategy that might be just wild enough to work for you, too.