Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Q: I am just stumped by the way things are selling now.

I’ve been working with you to buy a home for almost a year.  I’ve done everything you’ve told me to do to be ready.  But this whole “seller will review offers by such and such a date” and then they take an offer sooner and before I even get to see it, is frustrating!  Why bother setting a date at all? 

A: Up until recently, a seller would simply put the home on the market and wait for the best offer.  They could take one quickly if it suited them or wait for a better offer.  Then our market got busy with many buyers bidding on each property and things changed.  The idea came along to set a date a week or two out so that every potential buyer had time to see it and make an offer. That often resulted in the home selling for more than asking price.

But quickly this turned into sellers setting a date to look at offers but reserving the right to accept an offer before that date.  In my view that puts us right back where we started with sellers accepting an offer any time.  I think it’s a little crazy to even use that language.  It makes it hard to know when the best time might be to bring an offer.  Do we get it in quickly hoping it’s good enough to have it accepted, or wait until the “seller accepting offer” date?

I try to ask the listing broker for some guidance if they’re willing to share that.  They often tell me that the seller really wants to wait until that published date to look at offers, or that they’re out of town until then and want to meet with each broker who has an offer, or that they’re anxious to look at offers anytime.  It doesn’t always work, and some brokers don’t feel that they should share that information, but I try. It’s frustrating enough for buyers knowing that they have little time to make a decision.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Q: We are so totally discouraged trying to buy a home here we don’t know what to do.

We’ve made offers on a couple of places but there are always several offers, some for way over asking price, and we just can’t compete.  We’re fully approved for our loan but have a low down payment.  I think we’re just as qualified as any other buyer, but it seems cash buyers are out bidding us and sellers want big down payments if the home is going to be financed.  What else can we do?

A:  If it’s any comfort, you are one of thousands of buyers in our region who are facing rising prices, small inventory and competing offers.  You have done all you can to get yourselves prepared and are responding quickly when I send you new listings to consider.  At this point there are only a few things that could put you in a better situation.  I know it can feel uncomfortable to ask for help from family, but I see many younger buyers, and even some older ones, asking for financial help from family.  If it’s possible for your parents to gift you money, which is a tax free gift, it could boost your buying power.

Sometimes it’s also helpful to simply lower your expectations on what you will be able to buy.  A home located in an area of Vashon that’s not your first choice, or one that needs a little fixing could get you a home.  Holding out for a list of things you “must” have could keep you out of the market. 

Another option is to consider Kitsap County.  The town of Port Orchard is close by and the home prices are half what they are here.  You can commute to Vashon on a 10-minute ferry ride from Southworth, or to Seattle on the new high-speed passenger boat from Bremerton.  I’m not promoting real estate on Kitsap, only pointing out that the prices are lower, and you can still be close to Vashon for work and to keep up with your friends. Just a thought.