In a hot real estate market like Atlanta, a lot can change in a short period of time. For example, a home you were just considering could go off the market an hour later. Home values in a neighborhood can jump several percentage points in a matter of months, pricing you out of properties you could have otherwise afforded. The result: bidding wars that force you to make an offer higher than the list price. It can be a stressful situation, especially for first-time homebuyers.
Here’s the good news: by laying down some groundwork and remaining alert, you can stay competitive in your home search, even as factors begin to rapidly change. Check out these nine important tips to help you stay aware and focused while searching within a hot real estate market.
1. Narrow your search
Atlanta is a big city with many neighborhoods, and you can easily lose the pulse of a hot real estate market by trying to monitor too much data. Start by researching Atlanta neighborhoods in your price range, then narrow the list down to a few neighborhoods that offer the qualities most important to you (e.g., walkability, schools, shopping and dining, etc.). This will keep you current in the areas that interest you and help to remove the outliers.
2. Use online tools to keep you informed
These days, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) makes it easy to view listed properties online, filter them by neighborhood, price range and other criteria, set email alerts and notifications for new listings that match your criteria and monitor changes in price or listing status for properties you are watching. These tools aren’t just convenient — they give you an excellent way to stay on top of a hot, rapidly changing real estate market.
3. Improve your credit
Your credit score, among other things, can place a ceiling on how much home the bank thinks you can afford. With rising prices, you could be priced out of a neighborhood in a matter of months. The better your credit, and the less debt you hold, the less likely it is for you to be affected by these changes. Pull your own credit reports, correct any errors, monitor your credit score and pay down debt.
4. Avoid large purchases or life changes until you have bought your home
While the housing market may be growing and changing, your personal finances should not follow suit. Once you are in a good financial position to buy, stay in that position until you have closed on a house. Large, impulsive purchases can affect your credit score, and switching jobs can make lenders nervous about the stability of your income.
5. Do your house hunting in the winter months
Even in a busy real estate market like Atlanta, the winter months usually bring a lull in home purchases, causing prices to dip slightly and prompting sellers to make a deal. The available inventory might be slightly lower in the winter, but you might be able to make your dollar go a bit farther — not to mention the smaller competition.
6. Be decisive
In a seller’s market, homes can sell quickly, sometimes in as little as a day. If you see a home you like and the price is right, make an offer. Hesitate, and you might be forced to keep looking.
7. Make attractive offers
When the market is thriving, sellers are less inclined to accept a low-ball offers because they’re confident a larger offer will follow — maybe one larger than the listing price. If you ask below the listing price, make sure you know the price is fair and be willing to receive a declination. If the home has a lot of interest, you may want to make an offer above the listing price to hedge your bets.
8. Pay in cash
Not everyone is in a position to pay for a home in cash, but if you are, you can often dominate your competition. Cash may set the stage for a rare deal if the seller is particularly motivated; a seller may prefer to take a lower cash offer because the money is guaranteed and the wait time is shorter.
9. Hire an excellent real estate agent
An agent with keen knowledge of the local market and strong negotiating skills can give you a great advantage in a dynamic real estate climate. Hire an agent with plenty of experience and a proven track record to improve your chances of getting the home you want at the price you need.
When you are ready to begin your search in a hot real estate market, the agents at Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty are highly knowledgeable and experienced and can give you an advantage in the Atlanta market. To learn more, call today at 404.948.4812.