Some neighborhoods have two weeks’ worth of inventory at the moment. (I’m looking at you, Magnolia, Ballard, Bryant, Green Lake, etc.) A less frenzied market would have 3-6 months worth of inventory. Less than three months’ worth is considered a sellers’ market, more than six months a buyers’ market. It doesn’t take an economics expert to tell you this is a hot sellers’ market. This shows no signs of letting up in Seattle proper any time soon given the number of well-paying employers in our beautiful city. But don’t despair! Here are three things you need to do in this market to successfully accomplish your goals, both lifestyle and financial.
With tenacity and the right action, your future home will move from idea to reality.
Be brave. Everyone who gets something worth having faces challenges and discouragement. Choose a Realtor who has the industry savvy, paperwork knowledge, and people skills to get your offer accepted. Then listen to that person’s sage advice. They can find out a lot of information pertinent to the situation that is not evident to the public eye. It may be outside your comfort zone to zoom in quickly with an offer, but so is needing or wanting to move and continually experiencing disappointment when your offer is rejected or you receive a notice that your favorite property goes pending before you’ve decided to submit an offer, all while the market continues to make up ground and appreciate. As a listing agent, I’ve seen plenty of offers that my clients didn’t accept, sometimes because of negligence on the part of the buyer’s agent in writing or submitting the offer. Pick a well-informed, experienced, full service real estate broker. Their services are free of cost to you and their representation is invaluable. If you have to call an office hotline to reach that person, so will a listing agent in the heat of trying to help their sellers figure out which offer to go with. (Hint: this never helps that offer’s cause. Time is of the essence because all offers received have expiration dates, necessitating timely communication on the part of your broker.)
Be ready. In a Seller’s market, you don’t have the luxury of sitting on the fence about a particular property once you’ve found what you’re looking for. Many homes will already be pending close within a week of being listed. Look at new listings as soon as possible, don’t wait for the open house.Your preapproval or proof of funds needs to be in place, and you need to stick with whomever wrote that preapproval letter once the seller has accepted your offer. Don’t screw up your financing by making any big credit purchases (cars, boats, etc) until after closing. Be available and respond as soon as humanly possible to texts, phone calls, and emails from your broker during and after offering on a property.
The home buying process isn't supposed to be relaxing. It's exciting! You can relax on your new porch after closing.
Be flexible. By this I mean, be aware that your initial vision for what you need and want may mature through the process as guided by the reality of what’s available and what you can afford. That huge yard or ideal floor plan may be worth compromising on if you find the right location or the location might turn out to be different than you had initially wanted, based on other things adding up to the right fit for you. People with millions to freely spend on a home have an easier time checking all the ‘want’ boxes. If you aren’t in that fortunate minority, focus on what you need. Add that garage or those stainless appliances as you go, or knock that wall down later for a more open feel. Your real estate broker should be able to point out which changes are feasible and steer you toward a qualified contractor. Property ownership has worked out the best over the course of history for those who are able to think and act in a long term context. The only thing you can’t change about a property is where it’s located. Unless you buy a house and have it barged to a nearby island, in which case call me because I want to help you crack the champagne bottle on the front of that barge.
Despite the limited inventory, right now is a great time to go after what you want. Be it a new house, or any dream you have in life! Fear is a powerful motivator, but not always one that helps us move forward. Enlist expert help, get educated, and go for it!
Katie Herrick is an Accredited Seller Representative, negotiations expert, and Director of Cooper Jacobs Luxury Properties Division, Seattle. She works regularly with both buyers and sellers in the Seattle area.