Buyers Prepare!

Whether you are moving from Back Bay to Beacon Hill or relocating to downtown from the local suburbs, there are a few facts you should know about today’s highly competitive Boston condominium market to better position yourself as a buyer.

Today’s buyers are confronted with one stark reality—the current inventory of available homes on the market is very low.  According to the Boston Herald, the low inventory levels in the Metro Boston area will continue into 2013 as new housing developments slowly enter the market and home sellers cautiously wait for prices to rise. Inventory in the downtown condo market is particularly low now at less than a two-month’s supply, making it a very strong sellers market. Well-priced properties are generating multiple offers, resulting in bidding wars and the need to act quickly and aggressively if you want to secure a particular property. This situation presents particular challenges to buyers when a new property comes on the market. Buyers must know what they’re looking for and be ready to make a fast decision if they hope to secure the property they want. So, if you are considering making a move, here are a few important tips:

1) Know your financial position

To best position yourself to land the property you love in today’s highly competitive market, consult with your financial advisor or a lender prior to the start of your home search, or at least early on, so you understand what you will be able to afford and how you will pay for the home once you find it.  If you can swing a full cash transaction, you will have a strategic advantage over buyers who require financing. Generally speaking, cash buyers can close the transaction more quickly and pose less risk to the seller.

However, with record-low mortgage rates, which are expected to continue well into 2013, it is a great time to finance a home if you need to. It is important to speak with a lender to get the pre-approval process going before the big hunt begins. Although pre-approval does not guarantee a commitment to lend, understanding your borrowing capacity early on will help direct your search to properties that are within your realistic price range. And, having a financing pre-approval letter in hand, or that can be generated quickly to submit with your offer, will strengthen your position with the seller and improve your chance of securing the property.

2)  Establish your search criteria

Start the search process by creating your wish list of criteria—features, locations and price—for your home in the city. Establish a relationship with a trustworthy real estate professional, like me, who has market knowledge, will listen to and understand your needs, and will help you consider and prioritize a wish list of features, consistent with the city lifestyle you desire. Search for properties on my web site and sign up to receive current listings. I will be on top of your search to get you access to properties that might be of interest to you when they first hit the market, which is essential given the current low inventory.

3) Get educated on the market

Visit as many properties as possible that fit your initial profile to learn about neighborhoods, the market, relative values and what will work for you in terms of space and features. Attend open houses and contact me to arrange private showings as soon as a property of interest hits the market. I can arrange for you to see a property at the first possible showing time and also provide informed insights and analyses to factor into the decision process.  If you delay, you risk losing the opportunity to see the property. Of course, I will let you know, too, if I see a property that I think might be of interest to you. With inventory so low, buyers are responding quickly to well-priced properties in an effort to pre-empt multiple bids, which tends to drive prices up.

As you see more and more properties and we assess and discuss relative values of competing properties sold, under agreement and currently available, you will be better informed and, ultimately, prepared to act quickly when you find a home in Boston that’s right for you.