As any hopeful Bay Area homebuyer knows, buying in a seller’s market isn’t easy.
With an inventory shortage and steep San Francisco prices pushing buyers further afield (average SF home values now top $1.29 million!1), median prices in the North Bay won’t be dropping anytime soon – and the competition is fierce.
But there are a few simple things you can do to make the home-buying process easier and get into your new home sooner. When navigating a seller’s market, keep these tips in mind:
- Get your finances in order.
Get preapproved for your mortgage at RCU before you start looking at houses. Preapproval not only saves you time in the house-buying process, but it also makes you a “preferred buyer” in the eyes of a seller, since you already have your financing locked in.
- Keep an open mind.
Don’t judge a listing by the photos. If the property is in the right location at the right price, it’s worth a walk-through. When viewing a home, avoid getting hung up on things that can be easily changed, such as paint color or carpeting.
- Look in new areas.
Keeping an open mind applies to your preferred areas as well. Popular cities and neighborhoods command higher price tags, so check out sites like Trulia and Niche for places you might not have considered that meet your needs and save your budget. For example, if you’re shopping in Mendocino County, Redwood Valley home values average $441,000, but values in nearby Willits are nearly 40 percent lower at $277,000.2
- Review your “must-haves” list.
The more realistic you are about what your budget can buy, the less time you’ll waste looking for homes and features you can’t afford. House sale prices in Sonoma County rose 8.6 percent3 last year, which means time really is money when it comes to this seller’s market.
- Make your best offer.
Be ready to move fast when you find the home you want. Forty-nine percent of listings in Marin County sell within 30 days,4 and houses in Sonoma County often go for 10 or 15 percent5 above list price. So it’s crucial you do your research and work with a real estate agent you trust to put in an immediate offer that gives you the best chance of success.
- Write a personal letter.
Introduce yourself and your family to the sellers and explain why you want to buy their home. It’s a personal touch that makes a connection and gives you a competitive edge, especially when you’re up against investors and cash buyers. A recent analysis found Napa and Sonoma counties have the highest shares of cash buyers in the Bay Area, with 36 percent of Napa County properties under $1 million being sold for all cash.6
- Be ready to compromise.
The better your terms, the more attractive you are as a buyer. This means that, when possible, you should be flexible about contingencies, such as avoiding big repair requests after inspection and agreeing on a closing date that accommodates the seller.
- Stay positive.
Buying in a seller’s market can be an uphill battle, but don’t lose hope! Your perfect home is out there and rates are still at historic lows, so drop by or give us a call. RCU will be with you every step of the way to make your home-buying journey a dream come true.
2 www.zillow.com/redwood-valley-ca/home-values, www.zillow.com/willits-ca/home-values