The home-sale market is showing signs of life. More buyers are confident now than they were a year ago that now might be a good time to buy. Interest rates are near all-time lows and home prices in some areas are back to 2002-2003 levels. Some analysts are finally suggesting that we may be headed for recovery. If you have a secure job, plan to stay put and feel this is the right time for you to buy a home, consider the following.
high-demand, low-inventory areas, you may find yourself bidding
against other buyers, perhaps even more than once. This doesn't
necessarily mean that the price will be bid up significantly over the
asking price. This will vary from one listing to the next depending on
property location, condition and price.
It's important to
research the local community where you want to buy. Find out what homes
are selling for, if multiple offers are common and if listings are
selling for more than the asking price. This will help you make a
realistic offer that might be accepted when you find a home you'd
really like to buy. It helps to work with an experienced local real
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Whether you're anticipating
competition or not, you should be pre-approved for the mortgage you'll
need to complete the purchase before you write an offer. In
competition, this will make a big difference, particularly if everyone
else who is offering is pre-approved. It also lets you know what you can
afford. And, it puts you in a good bargaining position with the
Buyers aren't the only participants in the housing market
that have heard the news that the market has improved. Some sellers
are putting their homes on the market because they've been waiting for a
better time to sell. This is good news for buyers looking in
You should expect that you will have to
negotiate. Many of today's sellers are selling for less than they paid.
Even though the market has improved a bit, sellers may be disappointed
with the current market value of their home. Be prepared to negotiate,
not just the initial price, but after inspections are completed if
items come up that you hadn't anticipated.
contingency time frames in your purchase contract for loan and
appraisal approval if you're applying for a mortgage. The recent uptick
in the market means that lenders are suddenly overwhelmed.
THE CLOSING: Underwriters
could require that additional conditions be met before you can be
approved. Act quickly to avoid further delay.
Hymer, syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House
Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out,
The Complete Home Buyer's Guide."