What is it like to be a home buyer in today’s market?
Looking at houses
You start looking at houses – well we know you really have been “looking” for quite awhile. Looking at listings online, thinking about it, checking out your neighbors, etc.. Every day you will see listings new to the market, or worse, days will go by with no new listings.
You need to move fast when you find one you are interested in seeing. Appointments fill up fast, especially the 5pm time slots and often appointments are limited to 15-30 minutes. You show up to the listing and there are already people still there. You maybe feel a little rushed to go through the house and that maybe you will miss something. After you put in several offers and lose out, you feel less so, more committed, and more likely to give up on things that were originally important to you.
The house is not “the one” like you feel it should feel like. But you have seen a lot of homes, but not really. Inventory is low, so you are likely looking at things you would not have looked at a year ago. But you are looking and being open minded to what ever comes up. So, you see homes that you imagine can meet your needs. And you continue to write offers. It’s emotional and stressful – putting an offer on a house is a big commitment. It can be scary as it’s likely the biggest purchase you will ever make. You try to negotiate but are being told the winning offers are higher than yours (much higher), or all cash, or waive inspections, or agree to cover appraisal gaps, or sometimes all of the above.
Forget asking the seller to pay your closing costs. You look at your budget, talk to your realtor and lender to see what you can make work. Speaking of work, you are doing this while holding down your day job, in the middle of a pandemic. Rushing to see houses, making schedule arrangements when the key appointment times are taken. Each offer is an emotional roller coaster ride, you stretch yourself on the offer, and second guess yourself while waiting to hear back.
Until finally you are accepted, if you ever are, some give up or decide to take a break. Now the clock starts to tick, you have a slew of work to do. If you are lucky to have included an inspection contingency, you need to get in right away – yet more time away from work. You get the inspection report and see all the repairs needed, can you even ask the seller to fix these things? Will they just go back to one of the other dozen of offers if you try to negotiate? Are you doing the right thing with buying this house? You deal with lender underwriting delays and requests for more documentation, and cross your fingers that the appraisal comes back at your contract price.
Until finally it’s closing day, you have made it, you beat out so many others to win the coveted home. Congratulations, you are happy, but some remorse always lives in the back of your head, did we overpay? Will this be a good investment for the long term?
I say all of this to not scare you from buying a house, but instead to be open minded and educated to what it’s like to buy in this market. Working with a REALTOR® can help you best navigate the process, keep you organized, and be a steady voice and sounding board. We unfortunately can’t make the inventory shortages go away, but we are certainly trying to help make sense of it all and still try to have a good time doing it.