While many areas around the Puget Sound have experienced inventory increases over the past few months, the number of homes for sale on Bainbridge Island remains tight as there were just 1.8 months of inventory as of Q2-2018. With a lack of options and many buyers searching for Island homes, the process can feel daunting—here are seven tips that will help you navigate your home search.
1. Consult a Real Estate Agent
The advantage of talking to a real estate agent really cannot be overstated. Not only will they know about the neighborhoods you’re interested in and be up-to-date on all new listings, they can also help you write an offer that will stand out and leverage industry relationships with lenders and other brokers that will make a difference.
2. Secure Financing
Sellers are far more likely to accept an offer in which the buyer has already been pre-approved for the mortgage, because it verifies your ability to pay for the home and makes them feel more confident that the transaction will result in success. Getting pre-approved can also help “give you peace of mind” because you will know at the start exactly what you can afford.
Every member of your household will have their own ideas about what the new home must have: is it close proximity to good schools? An ample backyard? A master with an ensuite? Take the time to list out your top priorities and categorize them based on “must haves” and “would like to haves” so you can reference these when touring homes and talking with your real estate agent.
4. Don’t Be Afraid of Compromise
While every one of us wishes that we could find a dream home, the reality is that most buyers have to make a compromise somewhere in their home search (the National Association of REALTORS® reports that only 1/3 of the respondents in their annual survey reported making zero concessions in their purchase). Keep in mind too, that these compromises don’t have to be made on your “must have” items or even be permanent. As Ask a Lender writes, “remember that many of your home’s features can be upgraded down the road. Conversely, decide where you can compromise where other buyers don’t — if you don’t mind a tighter lot, a busy street or an older kitchen, it could net you a deal.”
5. Expand the Search
It can be tough to look outside of one particular neighborhood or community, particularly if you have your heart set on one place, but it also never hurts to look in nearby or comparable areas for options—you never know what you may find.
6. Make a Compelling Offer
A hot real estate market is not the time to try to lowball a seller and you should plan to “put your best foot forward by starting with your best offer.” That could entail waiving certain contingencies, adding an escalation clause or putting down a large earnest money deposit, all of which can up your changes—these are case-by-case options that your real estate agent can provide advisement on.
7. Remember Patience is a Virtue
Though the fast-moving activity of our market can make buying a home feel like a sprint, it’s really better to consider it a marathon. According to a 2017 National Association of REALTORS® survey, most buyers spent around 10 weeks searching for homes and toured an average of 10 residences before making a purchase. Though it may be a marathon, you also need to remain as flexible as possible by consistently communicating with your real estate agent to learn about new listings, making yourself available for showings as early as possible, and being ready to make changes to an offer quickly.