I’ve talked about how to take advantage of the seller’s market to get the best price for your home, but what if you’re on the other side of the equation? Navigating a home purchase can be stressful on its own—but in a hot seller’s market, there’s even more to consider.
In a seller’s market, there are more people shopping for homes than there are listings for sale giving sellers the upper hand. A seller’s market is characterized by:
As a buyer, you need to be ready to move fast, negotiate generously, and prepare for rejection. Maybe more than once.
Having an agent working to support you makes the process easier, so here are my top tips for buyers looking to stay competitive in a seller’s market.
Get pre-approval before you start shopping
In competitive offer situations, the first thing the listing agent wants to know is if the buyer is pre-approved.
Being able to send in a pre-approval letter with your offer proves that you are serious and gives the sellers confidence that the deal won’t fall apart on financing down the road.
While you’re at it, be sure to gather the income documents your lender requires (proof of income, proof of assets, and employment verification) in advance of submitting an offer.
In order to make your offer more competitive, you will want to shorten the condition deadlines as much as possible, which doesn’t leave much time to track down these documents after your offer is accepted.
I’ve talked about lending questions with Alex Lavender, Mortgage Broker previously and you can find out more about getting pre-approved here.
Shop all winter long
Having a little less competition can go a long way in landing the right home. Some buyers tend to hibernate during the winter months in favour of waiting for the infamous ‘spring market’ when the real estate industry kicks it into high gear for the warmer months.
Winter is a great time to shop as sellers who list mid-winter are often more motivated and you’ll face much less competition.
Stay alert. Sign up for an e-notification.
This ensures that you get an email alert the minute a property that matches your search criteria hits that market. You don’t want to miss out on “the one” because you went out to grab a coffee on your work break instead of checking Realtor.ca.
Schedule house tours ASAP
Once a property you like becomes available, it probably won’t last long. Make sure you give yourself an opportunity to get in on the action by going to see it as soon as possible, even if it means being a little flexible in other areas of your schedule.
Write a strong offer
Unfortunately, a seller’s market is not the time to try and score a deal.
Ask yourself how upset you’ll be if you lose out on this house, and then write your offer accordingly. If you really love it, don’t be afraid to go in above the asking price. (And a heartfelt letter to the sellers included in the offer never hurts.)
Hire an Expert
Don’t get swept up in the seller’s market. Hiring a neighbourhood expert means having someone working in your best interest, so you’re not overpaying for a property or relying on over-offering to get the property you love.
There are lots of ways to write an attractive offer and working with a professional means having insight into the market to so that you can write a winning offer
Not sure where to get started in your house search? Set up a free buyer's seminar to learn what you can do to find a home in the current market.
Real Estate Advisor based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I help people buy and sell homes with Engel & Völkers.