This year has been a long one for both buyers and sellers in markets all around the world. Disruptions to the spring real estate market, economic uncertainty, and, of course, the threat of illness caused unprecedented upheaval for anyone who was trying to make smart decisions about a home sale or purchase. If you’ve been looking for a new home to buy, you could be forgiven for feeling anxious and frustrated right now.
However, there is no reason to give up on your goals and there are plenty of ways to ensure that you can still find the right home for you and your family. With a little flexibility and a willingness to recalibrate, you and your real estate professional will be able to help you achieve your goals and make the move that you’ve been dreaming about throughout 2020.
Why buying a home is harder right now
If you started out looking for a home during the early spring of 2020, chances are you may still be on the hunt. COVID-related disruptions slowed down and complicated many home searches just like yours. Here’s why you may have been struggling with multiple offers and a protracted search process.
COVID-19 brought with it many uncertainties including economic anxiety, job loss, and fears for physical safety. For many homeowners, this translated into an unwillingness to put their house on the market since they were initially unsure of how safe home tours and moving processes would be and whether a job disruption might interfere with their ability to purchase a new home. This led to low inventory in markets across the country, especially in specialty sectors like the luxury home market.
Low interest rates
One of the federal government’s first initiatives to offset the financial impact of COVID-19 was to lower interest rates to unprecedented levels. This has continued throughout the year since March and has resulted in truly extraordinary buyer demand. Coupled with low inventory, this demand has meant multiple offers and homes selling for well above both asking price and appraised value.
Simply put, it can be difficult to look for a home right now, especially in highly competitive and desirable markets. Homeowners are less willing to allow in-person open houses or tours, meaning that some of your options may only be available via a virtual viewing. In addition, high demand may make it more difficult to schedule tours, informational inspections, and other aspects of the search and purchase process.
How to overcome a frustrating home search
If your home search has been protracted, you may be starting to struggle with the emotional and psychological impact. However, in order to achieve your goal, it can be helpful to take a step back and reposition yourself for a new strategy. Here’s how.
Reevaluate your priorities
What did your wishlist look like when you first started looking for a home? Did you insist on a turnkey space? Were you focused on a very narrow choice of acceptable styles or neighborhoods? Did you require that all of the updates and upgrades be made before you would consider a particular home? It may be time to re-evaluate your requirements and work with a real estate professional to formulate a new list of priorities.
Here are some of the things to take into account as you rethink your home search:
- Some of the most previously in-demand neighborhoods may be less desirable if you are now able to work from home permanently and if you will no longer have to commute to work each day.
- Many home buyers are currently conducting information-only home inspections with no required repairs prior to closing. If you’ve been holding out for a turnkey property, you may now be willing to take on some of the improvements yourself in order to facilitate a successful home purchase.
- How has your lifestyle changed since the pandemic began? Some of the things you thought you needed may be different now. Perhaps the second home office is more important than the upgraded kitchen you previously required. Consider whether you need to revise some aspect of the size or layout of your space in order to expand your list of possibilities.
Reexamine your options
While you may have previously been looking for a single-family home, now you may be thinking about bringing an elderly relative to live in your household. You may be considering buying a duplex or a home with an attached apartment or carriage house, suitable for either short-term or long-term rental. Either of these options may provide additional income which would allow you to increase your budget and broaden your search.
Talk to the experts
A real estate professional knows what is working for other clients in today’s market, and what markets are becoming more in demand and where inventory is a little more plentiful. In addition, a real estate professional may know of pre-market listings that offer you a better opportunity for a successful purchase.
A mortgage lender may be aware of more favorable loan terms which would allow you to work with a larger budget so that you can increase your number of potential properties. A contractor may have ideas about how you can turn an as-is fixer-upper into your dream home more affordably than you ever thought possible.
By talking to the people who know the market best, and letting them help guide you to think outside the box, you may just find that your assumptions and requirements have been holding you back. Work with the experts to come up with alternative solutions to help you get into the home of your dreams.
BY CHRISTY MURDOCK EDGAR