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What’s Your Home Worth?

Want to jump into this seller’s market? Do your due diligence to ensure you will be selling your home for the best price possible. Hire the best Realtor in your area and get on board. A seller’s market often means bidding wars, higher prices, and faster sales for homeowners. And while this is all good news for sellers, you’ll still need to be strategic if you want to sell your home for the most money possible.

What will your house sell for?  Realtors base their price opinions on comparable sales (comps). They look at sales that have closed within the last three to six months in your neighborhood. When looking at the comps to help determine the price of your home they look at several factors. These include your home’s condition, age, square footage, location, and the number of bedrooms and baths. The sale date is also important since it will reflect the most recent changes in your market.

Typically, the most important home feature to concentrate on is the number of bedrooms and baths. This usually plays a bigger role in valuation than square footage. For example, two-bedroom homes in a neighborhood of predominately three-bedroom homes will almost always sell at a discount despite the number of square feet. The same is true for a home with one bath since a majority of buyers look for more than a single bath. If most homes in the neighborhood have a certain feature – like air conditioning – the absence of that feature will drop the price.

Not ready to find a Realtor?  Home appraisers are highly-trained, licensed professionals who can determine a very accurate value for your home. You can hire them to get them to come and inspect and measure your house, noting its condition, amenities, and any issues that might impact its marketability – zoning, “offbeat” floor plans, environmental hazards, renovations, deferred maintenance, lot characteristics, and more.

A home appraiser will spend time completely looking over the exterior of the home to ensure it is structurally sound. They will look for any signs of water damage or other problems, such as a chimney that is cracked or leaning away from the home (which could indicate structural damage) along with a lopsided porch or stairs leading up to the home. 

The quality of the roof will also play an important role in your home’s sale value. Damaged roofs bring on infestation, leaking, and other problems, so the appraiser will assess the home’s roofing quality. The appraiser will also inspect the condition of the siding, garage, porch, deck, and any other exterior elements. 

Real estate agents and appraisers will gather and examine similar information, both will look at the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for information on comps. Appraisers have access to public records, but the key difference lies not in the information they gather, but in how they use it.

Real estate agents promise to represent their clients’ best interests. They want the listing of the home to be the best possible and will use gathered market information to this end.

Appraisers are paid outright – not on commission – and they do not have a vested interest in serving the client’s needs beyond providing a thoroughly completed estimate. In fact, they must clearly indicate that they are third-party professionals and not advocates for either buyers or sellers.

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Renovations That Will Increase Value of a Home

Kitchen: Start small at first. Replace the kitchen faucet, add new drawer knobs, pulls & faucets in a matching style and replace old light fixtures with modern, energy-efficient options. Rather than replacing cabinets, paint the cabinets a new color, or hire a refacing company to refinish the cabinet boxes. If your appliances don’t match, consider ordering new doors and face panels from the manufacturer. This will give your kitchen a more cohesive look without the high costs of replacing the appliances.

Laundry Room: A separate laundry room topped the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) list of most-wanted home features by buyers.  Carrying loads of laundry to a basement and then back upstairs again is a thing of the past. Now, buyers want their laundry rooms in a convenient area – near the kitchen or bedrooms with plenty of folding space and cabinets.

Exterior: Does your home have curb appeal? Paint the front door – it’s the first thing buyers see after the landscaping. Make it clean and consider new hardware (door-knocker, knob). Replace and add to the exterior lighting. Wash the siding. How is your walkway to the front door? Fix any broken or loose brick or flagstone. Pull the weed regularly. Add pops of color with flowers and plants.

Windows: Big-ticket items buyers want is new energy-efficient windows. Not only are they a great selling point, but they will also save the owners money on energy bills while they occupy the home.

Ceiling Fans: The most-wanted decorative home feature by potential buyers, according to the NAHB. Ceiling fans can be inexpensive and practical – they keep the air moving with the air conditioning or the heat. Plus, now they have reversible controls that allow the air to be drawn up, or blown down.

Hardwood Flooring: A cleaner look, easier to maintain, and more durable than carpet. If hardwood floors are already in the home, get it sanded and refinished to make it like new again. If there is carpet – it could increase your home’s selling price by 2.5%.  according to Realtor.com Paint and flooring are also some of the easiest repairs to make and can be very affordable if done right.

Fresh Walls:  Take the wallpaper down. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways that can help to increase a home’s value is also one of the simplest.  Freshly painted walls. Neutral colors are best and can make it easier for potential buyers to see themselves in the home.

The Bottom Line: It may be a seller’s market, but you still have to make your home stand out. It would be wise if you want to sell your home as quickly as possible to put your best foot forward for potential buyers, and especially those who come in to take a physical walk-through of the property.

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Will Your Home Be The Only One Not Selling Right Now?

Seller’s Market. Some say your home will sell in a matter of days, even hours in some markets. Some may say that there is absolutely no guarantee that your home will sell, even if it’s a hot seller’s market. Are you ready? It’s enticing. You keep seeing your neighbors’ homes selling – FAST. Is your home ready? Here are some reasons your home may be THAT home not selling.

PRICE:  Any house, in any condition, will sell – if the price is right. But buyers expect discounts for several reasons including dated kitchens and old plumbing. The danger of setting a price too high and then dropping it gradually is that when a home stays on the market too long, especially in this seller’s market, buyers assume there is something wrong with it and pass on looking at it. Your best bet is getting the price right the first time. A good Realtor will know the magic that it takes to do this.

PHOTOS: That first online impression – 90% of all buyers start their home search online and it’s then that they decide if they should make an appointment to go see it. If there are not many photos, buyers assume the worst. If there are few photos but they are clearly not professionally taken, or the photos show the clutter, many buyers will move on to the next listing. When you hire a skilled Realtor, he or she will have access to a professional photographer, hire one or have one on the team. Some agents still rely solely on traditional marketing tactics, like flyers and postcards, to market home listings. But, this is a mistake. Most buyers go online first. And the photos need to be perfect.

STAGE: It might be a hot market right now but that doesn’t mean you can just hire a Realtor and list it. You’ve got to put in some work and make the home worthy of its price. Declutter, fresh coats of paint, clean up your front and back yard. The overall goal is to make each room feel fresh and inviting and easy for buyers to envision themselves and their belongings in.

The Bottom Line: Know that you are selling in an extreme seller’s market and are more likely to sell for closer to your asking price than you would usually. Choosing the right Realtor is paramount when putting your house on the market. One who is knowledgeable on the local market and with experience selling in your neighborhood. Selling a home is a big life milestone and can be complex with all the many steps involved. The consequences of a mistake can make a big impact. It pays to spend the time and money to make sure you are getting your home on the market and ready for success.

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Seller’s Market: Make Your Offer Stand Out

Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important decisions a person will make in their lifetime. Financial stress is often compounded in a seller’s market when there is heavy competition among buyers. If you want your offer to be the most attractive, here are some tips.

Get preapproved. The one resounding rule all real estate experts will agree on is to get a mortgage preapproval before you begin your search for a new home. If you want to look like a serious buyer, the first thing you need to do is show the seller that you can actually close on the home. Get a mortgage preapproval – not just a pre-qualification – letter, and if you are a cash buyer, submit proof of funds with the offer.

Work with an experienced Realtor. Find someone you trust who truly knows the local market. Even better when that Realtor has connections to other Realtors — not only to view the non-public listings but also will know what other properties in neighborhoods you like might come on the market soon.  In today’s hot seller’s market, you’ll need someone who can steer you away from pitfalls, is a master negotiator, fiercely devoted to putting your best interests first, and can multi-task. The right agent can make a world of difference.

Up your earnest money deposit. If the house you’re making an offer on is the be-all-end-all, and you can’t imagine not living in it, prepare to boost your earnest money deposit. Show the seller that you mean business and you’re prepared to do what it takes. Your Realtor will be able to guide you to that perfect number that will prove your worthy.

Waive the inspection contingency. Most sellers are anxious about the home inspection. They worry that the buyer will ask for major repairs. This is an aggressive tactic that can be risky but yield positive results. Talk to your Realtor because right now, buyers have had an inspector attend home showings with them to do a quick on-site inspection. In the end, if you have the financial means to play it out this way, then the additional cost of making your own repairs is a risk you might be willing to take in order to get the house you want.

The key to getting your offer accepted in this heated market is to present the easiest, stress-free scenario for a seller.  The fewer demands you make as a buyer, the more likely it is that your offer will be accepted. Contingencies come in many forms, and the fewer of them you have, the more attractive your offer will be. Keep the offer straightforward.

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Beware of Wire Fraud

Wire fraud is a cybercrime not just limited to real estate—it can occur anytime someone is “wiring” money, aka transferring it electronically to another person or entity. In real estate, it can occur when a scammer poses as your Realtor, lawyer, or a title company representative, then convinces you to wire your down payment to their account, never to be seen again.

Mortgage wire fraud relies on a complicated hacking technique called phishing. In a phishing scam, a hacker uses fake emails, phone numbers or websites to impersonate someone you trust. They often use an email address or phone number that looks like the one your real estate agent or lender uses. These emails and texts can look authentic and even contain personal information that only someone you know would have. Of course, the scammer phishes your personal information out of your agent’s inbox beforehand.

Another technique used is called “spoofing” to make themselves seem more legitimate. Spoofing occurs when a scammer uses special software to mimic your agent or lender’s phone number or email. When a scammer calls or emails you from a spoofed account, it can look exactly like you’re talking to someone you trust.

The goal of mortgage wire fraud is to get your closing costs into an account that the scammer owns. The scammer may tell you that there’s been a last-minute change in their banking procedures. They might also tell you that they sent the wrong address the first time.

The truth is that the address the scammer gives you will go straight into their pockets. Once you initiate a wire transfer, it’s very difficult to get your money back. Mortgage wire fraud can leave you thousands of dollars in debt and delay your closing.

The Bottom Line: Buying and selling a home is an exciting time, but there can be pitfalls for unsuspecting consumers. Watch this video for four tips to protect your money and advice for what to do if you’ve been targeted by a scam.

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First Impressions Matter Even in a Seller’s Market

Curb appeal is everything, even during a seller’s market. It is paramount that you make sure the exterior is in excellent shape. There is truth to that old saying, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” – many potential buyers drive by the home before they make the call to see it.  Making sure that it is in the best shape, will get them in the front door. Be sure to call the best Realtor in town to get advice. Sometimes, as the owner, you can’t see as clearly what needs to be changed or updated and need a professional to help.

Title First Agency hears a lot of what buyers see and we have listed some of the exterior home improvements that can increase the resale value of your home AND  help sell your home even faster.

The front door: If potential buyers have decided to see your home, the door is the first thing they will see and walk through.  Just a fresh coat of paint or replacement or removal of a damaged screen or storm door will speak volumes. Polish metal knobs.  Consider replacing the door it if it is worn-out or banged-up. It’s one of the investments made that can more than pay for itself with the amount of value it adds.  Then, add potted plants to each side of your freshened up or new front door.

The approach to the front door: How is the driveway? Does it need to be power washed? Resealed? Is there a fence? Is it broken anywhere? Are there cracked pavers? A knowledgeable and honest Realtor will take that “approach” walk with you and help point out things you may not even notice because you have walked by it so many times.

Update your landscaping: Before the drive-by, most potential buyers search on the internet for a home. The pictures will be worth a thousand words and to have beautiful landscaping will help showcase your home and be put on the buyer’s list to see. The best Realtor will tell you that you want to make it easy for possible buyers to envision themselves coming home to your home every day. Remove any distractions (garden accessories, etc)- spruce up it up with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. If it’s Fall or Winter, make sure your yard has been raked of leaves, sticks and other debris.

Home repairs: Make sure there isn’t any loose siding, replace loose or damaged roof shingles. Look for any wood rot – again, you may need to call an experienced Realtor to help you “see” what you have looked at every day. Is there a deck, a front porch or a patio? If your home needs a new roof, it would be in your best interest to just replace it. Buyers tend to shy away from homes that will be needing a new roof soon. And, adding the detail of “new roof” to your listing will grab even more buyers’ attention.

Windows: Fix any cracks, clean screens, and storm windows. Have you washed your windows in a while? In between the glass and the screen is a whole world of dust and fun that should be cleaned. Shine them so that from the street they look brand new.

The Bottom Line: Even in a seller’s market as we are experiencing just about everywhere right now– some homes linger on the market for weeks or months, while the homes around them go into contract within days. A book is judged by its cover, and you only have one shot to make a good impression.  Even in a hot market, buyers want to see a home without visible deferred maintenance. Take the time to put on your home’s best face. Make your home stand out from all the other homes on the market and get the most out of your sale.

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Take Advantage of This Seller’s Market

What a time to be in the real estate housing market! High buyer demand coupled with record-low housing inventory is creating the ultimate sellers’ market, which means if you have thought about selling your home, now could possibly be your time. However, that doesn’t mean sellers are guaranteed success no matter what. Don’t pass on hiring a Realtor, you’ll need their help.

When inventory is low, like it is in the current market, too many people erroneously think that buyers will pay any asking price. Even in a sellers’ market, listing your house for the right price will maximize the number of buyers that see your house. This creates the best environment for bidding wars, which in turn are more likely to increase the final sale price. An experienced Realtor will help you set the best price for your house so you can achieve your financial goals.

A big plus in a hot seller’s market is that the homes that are older, outdated, or more unconventional sell during this time more than any other. Buyers want a home and will overlook any flaws just to get in one. The seller has a better than good chance to sell their home without making major updates. A Realtor can go through the comps in your neighborhood and evaluate whether you should fix anything or leave your home as-is.

You still should stage your home so that it is seen in the best light. Buyers become more emotionally involved if they can see themselves in the home. Curb appeal is extremely important when you’re trying to sell your home. Trim the hedges, cut the grass, and remove any unsightly weeds from the yard. If the paint on the outside of your home is peeling, consider giving it a touch-up or, if that’s too much work, power wash it to remove dirt and grime. Also, give the outside of the windows a good washing to make them sparkle. Staging is a good way to get multiple buyers and perhaps start a bidding war opportunity. Why not get the most out of the sale?

Hot markets see more buyers purchasing with cash or minimal financing than other markets. Hopefully, your buyer might not need to be approved for a loan, which would greatly reduce the amount of time your property is under contract. If you decide to accept an all-cash offer, you will likely close in a short amount of time. Be prepared, at least mentally, for this possibility prior to placing your property on the market. It might even be wise to have a rental lined up if you do not find another property to buy right away.

Most importantly, know that you are selling in an up market and are more likely to sell for closer to your asking price than you would in a down market. So, you absolutely want to take advantage of it and do everything you can to make it shine. You might even be one of the many sellers that will get more for your home than you ever imagined.

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Advantages of Using a Realtor in a Seller’s Market

Here we are, in almost every state in America, smack in the middle of a seller’s market. People looking for their new homes are desperate and frustrated. Inventory is scarce and bidding wars are abundant. It is, indeed, a challenging time to purchase a home. However, if you have ever thought about selling your home, now might be the best time to do it. If that is the case, you are surely aware that your home will sell quickly and most likely for more money.

If it’s so easy to sell your home right now, you might wonder if you should just sell it yourself and skip hiring an agent. If youre going to sell it and make money on it, what is the point of getting involved with a Realtor?

There are plenty of good reasons why working with a Realtor in today’s seller’s market is important.

Marketing

All Realtors have access to a myriad of marketing opportunities that will get your home in front of buyers such as the MLS, social media, open houses, advertising, and word of mouth within their well-connected network. You’ll get much more exposure. The MLS is the first place most Realtors begin searches for their clients and it is also automatically syndicated and displayed on third-party sites like Zillow or Trulia.

Often sellers get overconfident in this market climate and forget the basics, like staging your home, updating inside and outside, and clearing out clutter. Homes are not just quickly snapped up for a high price no matter the condition. The home should have amenities comparable to other properties for sale in the same price range. If you need to upgrade certain things in the home, do it as these changes can make all the difference between a quick sale and one that sits.

It’s good to remember the condition of your home can either grab a buyer’s attention or have them running away, even in a seller’s market.

Negotiating

Do you think you would be able to handle a bidding war that is common right now in this seller’s market? There are challenges to working with multiple offers on your home and when you have a Realtor negotiating for you there is a better chance of you making the highest profit on your home.

The best Realtors know how to help their clients get the most money during negotiations. They are able to skillfully navigate prospective buyers’ emotions, work with multiple offers effectively, and know how to use timing to your advantage.

Pricing

Even though it is a seller’s market and bidding wars are normal, you will want to have a pricing strategy to ensure your home is sold for the most money possible. It’s tempting to price your home well above the market but it could and probably will turn off informed buyers and leave your home sitting on the market. Even if a buyer agrees to your big price, they might not be able to close if the appraisal comes in low. Additionally, a good Realtor will fight for your property value. They know how to deal with appraisers to get the value where it needs to be for closing.

The main goal is to find the perfect price and an experienced Realtor knows how to do that. The price will reflect the comps in your neighborhood, including homes currently in escrow which might be more than the current comps. A Realtor will be able to reach out to other agents to get the information needed.

The Bottom Line: It’s quite challenging during a normal market, it’s a whole other stressful endeavor during a seller’s market. Hiring a Realtor right now is preferable because of their experience and resources which lead homes to garner higher prices on the market.

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What to Know Before Entering the Real Estate Market

Buying a house is a milestone that many want to reach. Having a place to call our own and transform into a home where you can start a new chapter of your life seems like a great idea. Making that dream into a reality takes saving, planning, and researching, which often leaves people feeling overwhelmed and potentially discouraged. Knowing where to start isn’t always crystal clear, and in today’s competitive market, having tools to know where to start and how to stand out will help you navigate the world of buying a home for the first time.

Start Saving Now

Saving for a purchase as big as a house takes time, effort, and strategy. It is never too early to start saving for the home buying process. Consider opening a separate savings account to keep your spending money away from your future house money. It may even be beneficial to look at different savings accounts at other financial institutions to see who will give you the better interest rate while your money sits in savings. If your house buying plans are years in the future, consider putting your funds in a certificate of deposit (CD) where you can earn the most interest during that period. While standard savings accounts have an interest rate, it is smaller than the interest rate of a CD. Locking your funds into a certificate for a year or two may be a good choice if you have a good chunk of money ready to accrue interest. With the time and balance constraints CDs have, some may find a standard savings account more beneficial. While the act of saving, in general, is an incredibly important component of the home buying journey, it is also important to know all of the things you need to save up for.

Down Payment: The majority of the money you save will be for the down payment you make on a home. The more you save up, the better your chances are at securing a loan from a lender or negotiating with a seller. The larger your down payment, the less your loan amount will be, which means you can pay off your mortgage faster.

Closing Costs: The closing costs are fees collected at the end of the buying process. The day you sign the paperwork to buy the house, you will bring funds for the down payment and funds for the closing costs, which include fees from many things done during the loan process.

Here are a few examples of what your closing costs could include: an appraisal of the property, attorney fees for the documentation of the closing, the first year of homeowners insurance, escrow fees for the first two months

Your closing costs can include many things, some may be small, but they can add up quickly. Keeping track of what your closing costs include will help you prepare for how much money you will need to save. Communicating with your lender during each step of the process will prepare you for the closing date.

Understand the Market You Are in

The state of the housing market can turn on a dime. One day it is a buyer’s market and the next, a seller’s market. What that means and how it can impact your journey is important to understand before you start your home buying process.

Buyer’s Market
A buyers market is when there are more houses for sale than people looking to buy. The market consists of homes looking to sell. Often they are on the market for quite some time, which allows the buyer to have the upper hand. There may be price reductions on properties to incentivize a sale, which could bode well for your budget. You can also negotiate with the seller on things like keeping appliances in the home or having the home warranty included in the purchase.

Seller’s Market
This is when more people are looking to buy than there are houses for sale. This gives the sellers an upper hand in that they can have multiple bids on their property, thus driving up the final sale price. If this is the market you are trying to buy in, you may find yourself in a bidding war between yourself and other potential buyers. You want to find ways to stand out that do not take you outside of your budget. This could include a letter to the sellers describing yourself and your situation and why you want to buy their home, which could have them sympathizing with you and find you more deserving of the property. You may also consider offering things like a flexible closing date or a larger amount of cash as a down payment to make you more appealing to the seller.


The market you are buying in will determine how aggressive you need to be as a buyer. If bidding wars are part of your journey, you will have to be prepared to act fast and either increase bids or fold quickly. In either market, you should prepare to say goodbye to a property promptly, as situations can change an offer instantaneously. Things like problems with the inspection or appraisal or even problems with the seller’s housing situation can have them reject the sale. Remembering that nothing is set in stone until you close will help prepare you for surprises that come your way.

Consider the Pros and Cons of Your Housing Options

When you start looking for a house for sale, you and your realtor will decide what type of property you are hoping to find. There are benefits and disadvantages to each type of property available on the market.

Turnkey Home
These homes are often state-of-the-art with appliances and finishings that are on-trend at the moment. A turnkey property could be a great choice if you aren’t looking to do any work to the home after moving in. The downside to buying a turnkey home is that it can be expensive and close to the top of your budget. Depending on the type of market you are in, you could find yourself in a bidding war and potentially lose.

Foreclosed Home
Buying a house in foreclosure can have many benefits. These homes are cheap, often sold at auction, and can need quite a bit of repair. Because they sell at such a low price, you can have an easier time financing the renovations you need to do without going over budget. This will also allow you to create your dream home from scratch. The downside to buying a foreclosed home is that there could be hidden liens on the property that you don’t know about, so it is important to do your research before considering buying one of these homes.

Townhouse
A townhouse is a multi-story house that has a communal wall with the homes next to it. Usually found in urban areas, they have very little yard space and can be the perfect home for someone who craves city living. Townhouses generally have a Home Owners Association (HOA) they must be a member of, which some may view as a pro or a con. The pro is that in paying the HOA fees, they cover things like maintenance of the grounds, which many traditional homeowners would have to do on their own. While townhomes can be more affordable than a traditional home, some may find paying the membership fees for the HOA can take them outside of their budget.

Consider the type of house you want and how that will impact the cost. Buying a home that needs a lot of work to bring it back to good shape can seem like an exciting project to undertake, but make sure you can handle both the financial pressures and the time constraints. If you want to renovate the house from the ground up, chances are you aren’t going to be able to live there while renovations are happening.

Buying a home is an exciting experience. While it may be stressful and overwhelming to think of where to start, sitting down and organizing your to-do list will help you visualize the process. Crossing things off your list one step at a time will help you feel like you are making progress. Always make sure a title search is on that list of things to do before purchasing a home to make sure you are in the clear and the property can really be yours at closing. Once you have those keys in your hand and you step through your front door, you will feel your new chapter starting in a home you call your own.

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Seller’s Market Mistakes

Not Making the Best Offer

When many people see the listing price of a home, they often wonder what they can really get the house for- this is a natural instinct, and it’s understandable, but you’ll need to avoid making a lowball offer in a seller’s market. Many buyers fail to get the home they want in such a market, as with a shortage of inventory and fierce competition, it can be hard to outbid another buyer willing to put their best deal down on the table. Be sure to lead with a strong offer to maximize your chances of getting the home you want.

Over-Analyzing the Purchase Price

Just as buying a home on impulse is risky, over-analyzing a home purchase in a seller’s market is ill-advised as well. If you wait too long to make an offer on the home you want, your risk of losing the home will greatly increase. If you’ve found the type of home you want, in a location you desire, in your price range, that meets your qualifications, don’t wait to make an offer (but be sure to have a preapproval in place and a down payment on hand).

Working with an Inexperienced Agent

If you’re looking for a new home and you find yourself in a seller’s market, you’re going to want to get all the help you can. By having a seasoned agent on your side, you’ll have a better chance of getting the home you want. In most cases, buyers don’t pay real estate agents anyway (sellers usually cover the broker’s fees). Working with a real estate agent will save you a ton of time and stress, as they’ll be able to provide tremendous insight regarding upcoming inventory.

Not Being Prequalified or Preapproved for a Loan

Your ability to be approved for a mortgage loan will be largely based on your steady income, low debt-to-income ratio, and high credit score, but your seller won’t know that unless you first get prequalified by a lender. It’s absolutely paramount to getting the home you want in a competitive market, and not getting prequalified sends a strong message to the seller that you’ll lag on getting your ducks in order and that you aren’t taking the house hunt seriously.

Not Being Prepared for a Bidding War

One of the biggest mistakes a buyer can make in a seller’s market is not being prepared for a bidding war, and it’s understandable- no buyer wants to be involved in such a battle for fear of going over budget. Be sure to set your search below your max budget, so there’s room to spare in case you find yourself in an over-asking bidding war.

Source: Trulia

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