Seattle Homebuyers Surprised by Multiple Offers on “Ideal” Homes

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Earlier this month, Aubrey Cohen of the Seattle PI wrote "Home buyers finding competition for nice homes in Seattle".  As a Mortgage Originator, I find that many of the home buyers that I'm working with are discovering it's taking a longer amount of time to find the "right home" due to lack of inventory and then, once they do find one they're interested in, they discover they're not alone.  David Billings of Redfin, says:

"When the ideal, cute, turn-key starter home comes on market at a price that a buyer feels is a decent value, they're shocked to find that there are lots (three, four, maybe six) of other buyers that feel just like they do," …"After having patiently waited out the market and read every article about how terrible Seattle real estate is, they can't believe they'll need to pay full list price, let alone the possibility of paying more in order to beat out others. It takes some time for them to come to grips with this reality and get competitive with their offers, or adjust their search to a home that needs some work, or is in a slightly less prime location."

The article reports the "hottest" homes are priced under $500,000 "turn-key…staged, painted…" located in the neighborhoods of Northeast Seattle, Capitol Hill-Montlake and Ballard-Greenlake. "Multiple offers have jumped from between 30 and 35 percent to 40 and 50 percent, hitting 51.4 percent in Ballard".

What's a Ballard Home Buyer to Do?  Actually, I think this applies to any home buyer who's considering making an offer on a home, especially if it's one that is "ideal" and newly listed. 

  • Meet with a local licensed Mortgage Originator to review your financial options and get preapproved. You really can't start this process too early – even if you're not planning on buying for a year, meeting with a mortgage originator and reviewing your credit and assets (funds for down payment) ahead of time may help put you in the best position possible for when your "ideal home" comes on the market.
  • Have a plan and set your limits. Determine what mortgage payment you're comfortable paying and what down payment you're willing to part with (this may be a lower amount than what you're approved for).  
  • Develop thick skin. Buying a home can be emotional – especially in a bidding situation. Be prepared that you may not win a bid and stick to your price range. 
  • Work with a professional real estate agent. Get referrals and check out your real estate agent just as you would when selecting a mortgage professional. Some agents, especially in this market where their commissions may be down, may be more interested in making a sale than looking out for you. I'm happy share my recommendations with you.
  • Be patient. Some of my clients have taken up to a year or more enduring several bidding wars before landing their home.

In a multiple offer situation, you're going to need to present yourself as a strong buyer, which includes having a well written preapproval letter. The Seller has probably heard plenty of horror stories of failed transactions due to tougher underwriting guidelines and they're going to want to select a strong buyer. Other factors may also include how quickly the transaction can close, especially if the home is vacant or if the seller has an offer pending on their next home.

In a possible bidding situation, I will often prepare several preapproval letters at various price points for my clients so they can determine just how high they want to go with the potential sales price.  

With home prices in Washington reaching "record affordability" combined with historically low mortgage rates, many home buyers are looking for their "ideal home" at a more reasonable price or a distressed property at a discounted price.

Bottom line, be as prepared as possible and start the preapproval process early. If you're considering buying a home located anywhere in Washington State, I'd love to work with you.

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