The 2021 Greater Hartford market is extremely hot. Buyer demand is very high, and seller inventory is very low. In fact, we are so concerned about the imbalances that we discussed the possibility of going to Inventory Zero later this spring.
If you want to buy a home this spring, here are some suggestions…
Accept that you are going to be competing for every home.
There are many more buyers looking for a home than there are owners trying to sell. Most sub-markets have already reached the point where a wave of buyers is waiting to descend on each and every new listing that even vaguely meets their needs. Your mentality should be that you need to make strong opening offers since there will likely be other interest in the home.
React quickly to interesting properties.
Homes are often selling within the first 3 days that they are on the market. If you are not paying attention, or do not make an effort to go see a new listing, then there is a really good chance you will not have an opportunity to consider it.
We recommend that our buyer clients see the home either the first or second day it is available for tours. Sellers have no obligation to give all interested parties a fair chance, but most will allow a few days of showings before selecting a bid.
Hire a good buyer’s agent.
Your best shot at winning a home is to make a strong offer, make it quickly, and don’t screw anything up. A good buyer’s agent can help you with all of those things and more.
The single most important thing that a good buyer’s agent brings to the table is the ability to evaluate a property with you during a short initial visit. They will know the market well enough to help you value the home, which may be a very different number than the asking price. They will have a good eye for construction quality and have paid attention during the 100s of inspections they have attended, allowing them to flag positives and negatives.
A good buyer’s agent will also have a good reputation in the agent community. Your offer has a better shot of being accepted if the listing agent knows the buyer’s agent to be a capable and reasonable individual.
Optimize your financing.
The value of your offer is important, but sellers also take a close look at how a bid is financed. Cash offers are a seller’s top preference since there is no mortgage risk. Conventional loans are next since they don’t include any property condition requirements. Higher downpayments are usually viewed as less risky than lower downpayments.
Most buyers are not able to raise enough cash to buy a house, so a mortgage is our reality. There is some advantage to going through the pre-approval process with your lender rather than relying on a pre-qualification. The difference is that in a pre-approval the buyer has provided the lender with financial documents that have been reviewed. Pre-qualifications might involve a credit check, but are mostly based on the buyer’s unverified claims about income, debt, and assets.
At the very least buyers need to have an active relationship with a mortgage lender. Every offer needs to be accompanied by a mortgage letter (or proof of funds for a cash buyer), so part of a quick reaction is getting an appropriate letter from your lender.
Optimize your offer terms.
Your offer will include additional terms beyond the price and financing. Sellers sometimes have preferences that can be incorporated into a bid, and you should avoid any non-standard terms. If a seller is considering multiple offers then they will often use their overall opinion about “the terms” as a tiebreaker to differentiate between bids of similar value. Your buyer’s agent will be able to advise you on where you can be aggressive on terms based on your personal situation.
Good luck with your home search, and we’re happy to help if you’re still looking for a good agent!