The 2018 housing market will not differ significantly from what we saw in 2017. Interest rates remain on the rise, but more concerning are rising home prices and a continued shortage of properties for homebuyers to choose from. This doesn’t mean you can’t find a home in this selling season, though. It simply means you need to have a working strategy and realistic expectations as you begin your search.
All markets aren’t the same
Potential homebuyers need to enter the 2018 housing market with their eyes wide open. The first thing to remember is that not all markets are the same. Housing in major cities is bound to be more expensive, and where you’ll most likely see the largest price increases. Suburban and rural locations are less likely to see as large of an increase.
Select a Realtor® who’s experienced and has a thorough understanding of market conditions in your area. Even though it may be time consuming, interview a minimum of three. And, whether you’re a first time homebuyer or not, you want a real estate agent you can trust to have your best interests in mind throughout this important and expensive financial transaction.
- How much have prices increased over the last year?
- What can we expect to find in terms of available housing?
- What is the average time a home remains on the market?
- Do you have a lending partner that you recommend?
- Is there a way for me to calculate mortgage payments?
- We need to sell our current home in order to buy a new one. How would you handle this scenario?
- What percentage of the sale is your commission?
Know what you want
Knowing the type of home you’re looking for and being able to articulate your requirements allows your Realtor® to hit the ground running. Is there a certain style of home you’d prefer? How many rooms, how many bathrooms, what size yard? Do you want a home where the living space is all on one floor? Do you need space for a home office? Do you have a preference for the type of heating? What about kitchen appliances, countertops, etc? Do you want central air conditioning or a swimming pool? Do you need a two car garage? How flexible are you? What are must have’s and what can you live without? The better your Realtor® knows what you want, the better they can target their search.
Because finding the perfect home in a tight market can be difficult, you want to be flexible — this means looking for a home’s potential. Maybe it doesn’t meet all your requirements, but with a little love and care it could. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, would you be willing to consider a multi-family home where rent could help pay the mortgage?
In a buyer’s 2018 housing market where homes are selling quickly, a pre-approval gives you the ability to make an offer and close more quickly than you would with a pre-qualification. Unlike a pre-qualification where the lender provides you with a suggested price range based on your answers to questions about your income and debt level, a pre-approval tells a seller that you’ve got the financing you need. Once you’ve made an offer on a home, only the appraisal and title search remain to be completed and then you’re ready to close.
When it come to making an offer, you may need to act fast. In a tight market like this, you might need to offer the asking price (or even more) if there are competing offers. If there’s room to negotiate, having an offer strategy worked out with your Realtor® can help. Knowing what you would you like to pay and what’s the most you’d be willing to pay gives your Realtor® the room they need to negotiate.
Now that you’ve found the home you’ve been looking for, here are the things you shouldn’t do while you’re waiting for final approval on your loan.
- Open new, close existing, or transfer funds between any asset accounts without speaking first with your Loan Officer. Do not co-sign for any loans.
- Deposit any money other than your payroll deposit including cash or the proceeds from the sale of personal property without notifying your Loan Officer. Documentation of the source of these deposits would be required.
- Change jobs/employers during or up to 30 days after your closing without speaking with your Loan Officer.
- Make any major purchases such as a car, furniture, appliances, etc. prior to closing.
- Increase credit card or student loan balances or other lines of credit, fall behind on monthly payments, spend money allotted for your down payment, or close any existing lines of credit as your previous purchase history is important in determining your credit score.
The Bottom Line
A good Realtor®, a loan pre-approval, as well as knowing what you want and where you’re willing to be flexible, are the things you need to be successful in the 2018 housing market.