How to Buy a Home Stress-Free in a Seller’s Market

There is a lot of evidence out there, both statistical and anecdotal, that it’s a “seller’s market” in the Seattle area. And that is consistent with my own experience as well. The best example? (Or perhaps worst, since this post is from a buyer’s perspective…) I helped make an offer on a home in Mount Baker, the proverbial “tastefully updated bungalow” with lots of nice features. And it got quite a bit of interest. How much interest? Oh, only 13 pre-inspections, 10 offers, and a final sale price 20% over list. POW! Talk about getting punched in the mouth.

In other words, a bidding war. These situations are emotionally trying for any buyer, and are simply too stressful for some. So what to do if you’re a buyer who has no interest in a bidding war?

Tailor your strategy accordingly. First, don’t even look at a listing until it is at least 14 if not 30 days old. At that point, the odds of a bidding war drop dramatically. You are much more likely to have one-on-one negotiating that allows you to keep control over negotiations and gives you the ultimate ability to either buy the house or not.

But that leads to the next, and much tougher, question: How the heck do you find a good house in this market if you only look at old listings? Admittedly, it’s a challenge, but not impossible. First and foremost, don’t just rely on the pictures in the listing to determine if a house is worth a closer look. For whatever reasons, some agents don’t do the best job with the pictures. So don’t think that the pictures necessarily reflect the true condition, layout, and overall “gestalt” of the house. Instead, look for possible homes primarily by neighborhood, space/size, and price. Compile your list, and then go have a look in person regardless of what you might think from the pictures. Yes, you’ll end up touring more homes, but that’s the only way to find that “diamond in the rough” that will work for you but won’t give you a heart attack when making the offer.

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7 thoughts on “How to Buy a Home Stress-Free in a Seller’s Market

  1. This is starting to happen in our market as well Craig. A smart buyer will have an aggressive agent be on the look out for those properties that will fit their criteria.

  2. Gabe — Sorry, but I must take exception to your comment. A smart buyer (and one who doesn’t mind a bidding war) will have an agent on hand ready to go as soon as the home hits the market (for a tour, possible pre-inspection, and offer, all within a few days). But the smart buyer won’t rely on the agent to monitor the listings because pre-set searches and email alerts are reliable as well. Instead, smart buyers will take that work on themselves and find an agent who will cost less since the smart buyer doesn’t need the traditional, full-service agent.

  3. I have had a few home buyers who have surprised me with how in depth their research goes. We do make sure that we try and make the process as easy as possible but once they really get into it you can see how it pays off in the end.

  4. As the Broker of Record for Milestone Silver Realty Ltd. ; I am always interested in what other Real Estate practitioners have to say. Just thought I’d let you know that I came across your blog and it drove home the point that “Sellers Markets” tend to be the same regardless of where you are Seattle or Northern Ontario. The advice that you are giving is sound and should be taken to heart As we all can appreciate: Real Estate is “High Paying Hard Work and Low Paying Easy Work” Thanks for posting. Keep up the fine work.

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