Angelica Olmsted, an agent with RE/MAX Professionals, says that while the housing market has “slowed down” in her hometown of Denver, Colorado, it’s actually not slow at all. Sales are still brisk even though, according to the most recent RE/MAX National Housing Report, Denver has one of the tightest markets in the U.S., based on available homes for sale.
“Slowing down" does not necessarily mean what most people think. A couple of months ago, we were seeing 20+ offers on a home, and now we're down to four to five offers on the same home. It is still a very competitive market,” Olmsted says.
“It’s hard to buy in this market when you can't compete with a cash offer or an appraisal gap (when an offer is higher than a home’s value). And if you don't have an unlimited amount of time to search, you can't just drop everything and go look at a property,” she adds.
For any prospective homebuyers who are feeling down on their luck or are seeking new ways to reinvigorate their home search process, RE/MAX agents offer their insight into purchasing properties in any market.
Work with an experienced professionalIn a market that’s seeing bidding wars, cash buyers and investors, homebuyers would be wise to work alongside a qualified real estate professional who operates with best practices and can guide them through the process and represent their wishes to the seller’s agent.
“When you're picking an agent, make sure they’re someone you can talk to. You'll be in the trenches with this person, so make sure you feel comfortable communicating your feelings to them,” Olmsted says.
Additionally, those buying a home with a loan will want to be in close contact with a mortgage professional for pre-approval, and even underwriting, before touring properties.
“At the end of the day, cash [offers] come with fewer contingencies, which means a quicker close. To combat that, working with a local lender who can pre-underwrite you is huge,” Olmsted says. “Underwriting can get you to close faster, so I highly encourage my buyers using a loan to do that.”
Get there early“In the past, when you went to look at homes with your agent, you could go on the day and time that makes sense for you. That's no longer a luxury most buyers have,” Olmsted says.
“As properties hit the market, you need to go out and look at them as soon as possible. That’s contributing to buyer fatigue because you’re no longer able to wait and look at homes on the weekend or plan a tour for after work.”
To view homes amid fast-paced turnover, Christine Dupont-Patz, Co-Owner of RE/MAX of Cherry Creek in Denver, suggests booking morning showings when schedules allow.
“Switch your showings from the evening to the morning. If buyers have been looking at houses only at the end of a busy workday, they may have hit decision fatigue before they even set foot inside the listing,” Dupont-Patz warns. “There is often less competition to schedule a pre-work showing, and the buyer may know before the end of the workday that they want to write up an offer.”
Reassess make-or-break featuresAfter seeing so many properties and getting boxed out, buyers should take a moment to reprioritize which home features are essential and which can be compromised. Making a list of “wants vs. needs,” especially when purchasing a home with a partner, helps ensure everyone is on the same page in order to streamline the process when a potential home hits the market.
“It's also helpful for first-time homebuyers to remember that the goal is often to get into a home that will allow them to move to their dream home in five years,” Dupont-Patz adds.
Reassessing desires may take a few days, and according to Olmsted, that’s a perfect chance to regroup.
“If you're feeling overwhelmed, take a few days off from searching. If it's meant to be, it will be,” she says. “At the end of the day, all the properties [start] to look the same, so give it a couple of days to reassess what's important to you and come back to the search refreshed.”
Submit a strong offerFind out what factors are most important to the seller when considering an offer. For example, Olmsted suggests an expedited closing timeline may be appealing to a seller, in which case the buyer and their agent will want to work around those parameters.
“There isn't a magic recipe for making a strong offer,” Olmsted cautions. “But real estate is a relationship business, so you want to work with a professional who is isn't afraid to pick up the phone and ask questions.”
In addition, qualified buyers may consider submitting an offer for asking price or above, rather than trying to come in under and negotiating up, if they truly think they’ve found a home they can’t miss out on. Some buyers build an escalation clause into their offer to automatically outbid competitors up to a set price.
“Always remember why you’re buying. Homeownership is a goal worth pursuing, even if it takes multiple offers to get there,” Dupont-Patz says.