So, you’re thinking about buying a house — join the club.
Millions of people across the US have spent the last year in a homebuying frenzy, snatching up available inventory and sending prices through the roof. That demand, driven by a pandemic-fueled desire for more space and a safe haven, isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon.
In fact, a recent report from Black Knight found that there are currently 40% fewer homes on the market than in 2020, while median sale prices have risen 17% nationwide.
Read more: 3 homeowners weren’t planning to sell — until a real-estate agent reached out with an offer they couldn’t refuse. Here are their stories.
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Still, if you’re hoping to take advantage of historically low interest rates and settle into a home to call your own, it’s not impossible — you may just need to be especially savvy.
Insider spoke with five real estate agents based throughout the US about the homebuying process. They revealed their top tips for buyers, and the guidance they find themselves repeating to clients over and over again.
Sean Waeiss, a broker and the owner of Wise Property Group in Austin, told Insider that it’s important not to have too many preferences set in stone going into the homebuying process.
“Some people are like, ‘Oh, I just want to own a home,’ but they have a lot of parameters: ‘I want to be close in. I want to have a short commute. I want something that’s not dilapidated. I want an extra bathroom,'” Waeiss said. “Well, you’re going to put yourself in a position where you’re not going to end up buying anything.”
Adjust your expectations.
Compass realtor Jared Goodloe, who’s based in Brooklyn, said New York City’s unique real estate market can trip up buyers who are unsure whether they want a co-op unit or a condo, or a new or older property.
“Resell and new development are two different things,” Goodloe said. “So you can’t expect the same amenities, the same upgrades as what you’re going to see with a new development.”
Be prepared for an emotional process.
After a hectic few months in the real estate market, even realtors are starting to feel the emotional toll, Glen Clemmons, a broker and realtor for Costello Real Estate and Investments in North Carolina, told Insider.
“I feel beat up, they feel beat up,” he said. “I had one client who wrote 15 offers before they finally got one, and that’s exhausting.”
Clemmons said his clients are going to multiple showings, putting in several offers, and generally being put through “the emotional roller coaster of, ‘Are we going to get this one?'”
“What I would say is, check your heart when you walk through a house,” he added. “[Going to a showing is] not a guarantee that you’re going to get it. Put your best foot forward, and be patient.”
Be informed, but don’t overdo it.
Goodloe issued the same advice many healthcare professionals likely tell patients: If you have concerns, don’t fall down a Google rabbit hole.
“Google helps you and it aids you and it’s a good cross-reference, but when you hire a dynamic team, I would use my team as the biggest resources — that’s your inspector, your real estate agent, your attorney, your lender. They play a pivotal role in this,” Goodloe said. “I always tell my people, Google, feel free to, but also use me as a resource.”
Choose an open-minded realtor who has experience winning a bidding war.
Given the low inventory and rising prices for homes in the US right now, buyers have a high likelihood of ending up in a bidding war. According to Katie Day, an agent with Coldwell Banker Realty in Houston, working with an experienced agent is a must.
“It’s super important to have someone helping you that understands how to navigate these times and how to navigate the market, and has a track record of winning in multiple-offer situations and negotiating,” Day said.
Sara Olvera, a real estate agent with Dream Town Realty in Chicago, also echoed the importance of the right realtor, and suggested looking for someone who’s willing to get creative when, say, you have a limited budget.
“Sometimes as professionals, we kind of are quick to just be like, ‘Nope, that’s not going to work. You’re not going to do that.’ I’ve had clients come to me and say, like, ‘Hey, [another realtor] said that I couldn’t do that,'” Olvera said. “And I’m like, ‘Well, why not? Let’s play with the numbers.'”
According to Goodloe, the home-buying process is still taking “just a tad-bit longer” due to the pandemic, and he said he urges his clients to be patient.
“I always tell my buyers, focus on something else outside of the transaction,” Goodloe said. “So whether that’s meditating, hanging out with your friends, going on a walk, do something outside of the transaction.”
He did issue one warning though: Don’t spend the time car-shopping, as taking on an auto loan could interfere with a buyer’s preapproval.