This past weekend I held an open house at 55 Grennan, in the heart of West Hartford Center. For those that don’t know, the West Hartford Center market is very active, and right now strongly favors sellers. Homes that are priced properly tend to sell very quickly because there are many buyers and agents on the lookout for opportunities.
Our listing went under contract shortly before the open house. Since it’s virtually impossible to cancel an open house once all of the advertising gets out there, our sellers asked us to hold it anyway so that they wouldn’t have to answer the door all afternoon to explain the situation to confused buyers. Open houses on properties already under contract are not ideal, but that’s the situation we were in. (Though believe me, there are definitely worse situations to be in.)
Over the two hours that I was talking with prospective buyers, it became clear that many did not have a solid plan for how they were going to find their home in this competitive sub-market. Here were the three main misconceptions that I heard again and again.
1. I can find listings online. Maybe, maybe not … it all depends on what websites you’re using and how regularly they refresh their data. Many of my open house visitors had found out about the house after it was already under contract. We’ve been most impressed with Realtor.com, if you insist on searching on your own. A far better strategy is to reach out to your favorite real estate agent and have them plug you into the MLS directly. New properties, and any change in the status of an existing listing, can be sent to you instantly.
2. I can figure out my financing once I find the house. Serious buyers get their financing in order before they start looking for homes. Do they actually qualify for a mortgage? If so, how much can they spend? Buyers need to prove their ability to purchase when they make their bids, so every day they waste working with a mortgage person after they find their dream home is a day that someone else could come in and buy it out from under them.
3. It’s a buyer’s market. Um, no. At least not in West Hartford Center. Inventory is very thin and demand is quite high. Buyers don’t seem willing to go crazy bidding prices up (overpriced houses still sit on the market for months), but houses sell quickly when priced correctly. Buyers who think they’re in charge are probably not going to find a home in West Hartford Center this spring. Every neighborhood is different, so you need to understand the specific dynamic in your town or area.
These three factors are some of the biggest reasons that buyers have a hard time actually purchasing the home they like. They don’t learn about properties in a timely fashion, they think sellers will wait for them as they work to get their financing, and they think they can play hardball on price. In some markets they may be right. But not in West Hartford Center.
A far better strategy is to get all your ducks in row before you start looking. That way you know exactly what needs to happen before you tour your first property. We’ve had multiple buyers get the house they wanted this spring because they had their act together. They were educated about the market, they understood their financing situation, and they were comfortable bidding as soon as they saw something they liked. And if all continues to go smoothly, they’ll be moving into their new homes very soon.
That could be you … and we’d love to help you get there.