With what’s gearing up to be one of the most competitive real estate markets, this summer is already off to a sizzling pace. Given the market conditions, my clients have been asking what they can do to win the contract in such an inventory constrained market. The best piece of advice I can give is there is no room for ” Amateur Hour.” There are always new folks coming into the Real Estate business – whether as a realtor, inspector, loan officer or title agent – but the experience and skills of those who are part of your transaction will make a difference in getting to the finish line. Even if you’re an experienced home buyer, you want to stack the odds in your favor.
While you may have been more open in your selection of your Realtor, mortgage lender, title company, etc. in the past – this is the time where you want to make sure you’ve got the best players on the team. In the last 30 days, I’ve seen some deals fall through because the folks involved in the transaction were too new to the business. Take the time before you get started to research and vet any professional who will be involved in the process.
An experienced Realtor, with a good reputation, has a greater likelihood of getting to a contract as seller’s agents will steer clients towards offers from credible agents. When weighing offers, a known Realtor is an advantage because it is more likely “things will be good in terms of negotiations” says Nina Bhanot from RE/MAX Premier. Inevitably, something will not go smoothly in the process and you want both sets of Realtors to have the experience to drive the best outcome. While you might be tempted to give a friend who is a new Realtor a shot at your business – be prepared accept the trade-offs, such as losing contracts and/or money in the process.
As a buyer, nothing will make you look more like an amateur than looking at real estate without a pre-approval letter from a credible lender. I stress the word “Credible” because I had a Realtor direct a client to me last week whose offer was rejected because it came with an approval letter from Quicken Loans. These big box/call center lenders are often perceived as more focused on volumes and less about quality loan officers who are personally accountable for delivering upon commitments. You want a local loan officer who is backed by a credible bank and has been in the mortgage business at least ten years. If you feel compelled to go with a big box bank, I would encourage you to get a second pre-approval letter from a local lender as a precaution.
This seller’s market means that buyers will have to come to grips that it’s not about what they want-but what the seller wants. Ashley House, of Keller Williams/Cheney Group, says “We’ve found the key to winning a contract in this market is to make it easy for the seller to accept our client’s offers.” For many sellers, it’s not just about the money, but about putting forth a compelling offer that takes the seller’s needs into consideration. “Sometimes just offering more money will not be the winning strategy,” offers Anastasia Riley of Ebby Halliday Realtors. Being flexible on such things as seller leasebacks can make a difference as well as keeping “requests for seller paid closing costs out of initial contract negotiations” says Doug Mims of Keller Williams-Dallas.
Good Realtors and Lenders know that having a skilled title company can help you avoid hiccups later in the process. You want to go with a title group that either your lender, or Realtor, do a substantial amount of business with because they have more clout to get things done. One of my favorites is Republic Title (Tracy Horne in Plano and Sarah Mann in Frisco) because they have deep expertise and a stable staff. I really encourage clients to get recommendations from their mortgage consultant and Realtor–and land on a title company that is mutually agreeable prior to submitting a contract.
Don’t forget as you go looking for that perfect home, that the limited inventory should not drive you to make a decision that you may later regret. As David Sacks, from Sacks Real Estate Team, reminds us: “A good piece of real estate will remain solid in a down market where a home with undesirable economic influences or poor functional utility will not.” Shop Wisely!