Wednesday, February 6, 2019 / by Holly Northup
A competitive market – increasing prices and a limited number of homes for sale – signals homebuyers in the greater Austin area need to be well-prepared when the spring real estate season rolls around. How can you ensure you're ready for the steep competition? Complete a couple of pre-market preparations. Follow these tips to prepare for the spring buying season to ensure you’re ready to compete:
Determine Your Budget
Setting your budget should always be the first step to buying a home. While it may be tempting to start your search online before setting a budget, it is not recommended. In fact, by going this route, you may set yourself up for disappointment on the amount and quality of home you can afford. On top of that, the number needs to be realistic. In other words, you need to decide on a number you can actually afford – not reasonably! Once you have set your budget, stick to it! While that may seem obvious, it often is hard to stay within your budget in a competitive market. Why? Many buyers often get pushed above their preferred price to expand their options or win a bidding war. Try not to get caught up in this as you don’t want to push your monthly payment to an uncomfortable amount.
How do you know how much you can afford? First off, dive into your finances and look at your budget. From here, decide how much you can comfortably afford to pay for your monthly mortgage. While you can go online to determine this value, it is recommended to visit a lender to help you set this number while also providing a loan preapproval. The pre-approval number set by your lender is the maximum amount you can borrow. Plus, a pre-approval letter shows sellers you are a serious buyer and can actually afford to buy the home – which may give you a leg up on the competition.
Hire a REALTOR®
With the internet, it may be tempting to go it yourself and simply search for homes online. Don’t fall for this! Especially because as a buyer, your real estate agent’s fees are paid for by the seller. Take advantage of what a REALTOR® can provide you: access to the multiple-listing service (MLS) and pocket listings, contacts in the region, expert negotiating skills, etc.
Decide What Home Features You Want
From the number of bedrooms and bathrooms to the overall square footage, features and finishes, it is important to know what you are looking for when you begin to search for a home. To make it easy, make a wish list of the items you must-have and others you would like to have, but can live without. One last thing to think about, are you interested in a fixer-upper or a turn-key home? Creating a list of items you must-have helps narrow down the number of homes you visit. This, in turn, can speed up the process!
Determine Where You Want to Live
Location. Location. Location. It’s one of the oldest adages in the book and yet, it remains true. To many buyers, the location is often more important than the features. Why? While you can change a home’s features, you can’t change its location. That being said, know where you want to live. How close do you want to be to local amenities, schools, major highways, employers, etc.? Figure this out now. If there are multiple areas, let your REALTOR® know. That way, when a home hits the market that is perfect for YOU, you can jump on it immediately.
Once you have determined your budget, a neighborhood you want to live in, a wish list of must-have items and a top-notch REALTOR® on your side, you can start your search for a home! On top of that, having these items determined early ensures you are ready for and can be competitive in the spring real estate market.
Do you have any questions about buying in the greater Austin area this spring? Give our team a call. We would be honored to help with your search.