It’s Hard Being a Home Buyer in Seattle – Here are some tips!

CNN recently published an article about a couple’s experience buying a home in Seattle. In a nutshell, their seventh offer was accepted with multiple offers well over the list price and they were able to close quickly without contingencies with a large earnest money deposit.

Home prices and lack of inventory (which I hope is starting to change) have created a highly competitive situation for those who want to buy a home in Seattle. Buying a home just about anywhere in the tri-county area these days is not for the feint of heart.

Here are a few pointers that you may find helpful if you’re considering buying a home in a “hot” market.

Make sure you’re fully approved with a “Letter of Loan Commitment” (aka Underwriting Preapproval Letter). This is different than a traditional preapproval letter and basically means that there are no conditions remaining from the home buyer with the lender except for the appraisal and the title report. If there are any conditions remaining with the borrower, they will be listed on the letter of loan commitment. The Letter of Loan Commitment/Underwriting Preapproval Letter carries more weight than a preapproval letter as it means the buyer should be able to close quickly without issues.

Have your mortgage professional contact the listing agent. Provide the Loan Officer with permission to discuss your scenario in detail – specifically your credit scores, where your funds are coming from, things that will show the listing agent that you’re a well approved buyer and the Loan Officer has you ready to close quickly. This also allows the Listing Agent to do a “sniff test” of the Loan Officer and their mortgage company.

Work with a local lender. Listing agents tend to dread working with large banks or internet lenders. This is because they typically have processing centers not located in Washington state and, as these lenders are “gravy fed” they don’t have as much to risk with reputation or earning repeat clients. They simply do not have as much to lose or gain as a local lender who is more accountable and easier to reach in the event there’s a hiccup with the transaction.

Use a bridge loan, if you need to sell your home before buying. A bridge loan allows you to buy your next home before your current home is closed. This is a great tool that allows you to tap some of your home’s equity so you can make an offer on your next home without it being contingent on the sale of your existing home. This can also allow you to make a larger down payment or avoid tapping into other assets, such as retirement or stocks.

Pay cash and then refinance after closing using “delayed financing“. This is a great option… IF you have the funds available. Delayed financing allows you to refinance and do a “cash-out” refi.

Look for a fixer-upper. There are several mortgage programs, such as Fannie Mae HomeStyle and FHA 203k Rehab mortgages that will allow you to take a fixer upper and create the home you’ve been hoping for. Both mortgage programs are “all-in-one” financing where the cost of the construction/rehab is added to your sales price to create your loan amount with reduced down payments.

Don’t buy in Seattle. You can get more home for your money looking in other areas outside of Seattle or other hot areas like Bellevue. It’s really worth considering other neighborhoods to see what else is available in your price range.

Of course if you’re considering buying a home located anywhere in Washington state, I am happy to help you! I have been helping people finance homes since 2000 at Mortgage Master Service Corporation. Click here for a no-hassle mortgage quote or here to start the preapproval process.


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