The market wearing you out? Here is an easy way to buy a house!

Let’s face it. A buyer in today’s market is going to pay top dollar for any house. There are two methods of home searching.

The way the home search usually goes for most buyers is like this: They have a search set up on Zillow alerting them when a new listing hits the market. Then they rush out to see it. Also rushing out are the 20-50 other buyers who set up the same alert. You wait in line to see it. You have 5 minutes to make a decision. You write a crazy high offer promising to do anything the seller wants short of naming your next child after them….then you lose the house in multiple offers to the buyer who was willing to name their next child after the sellers.

It is crazy out there!

Part of the reason the market is like this has nothing to do with a shortage of listings. Part of it, a small part of it, is that buyers are so focused on new listings. These days, if a house doesn’t sell immediately it is forgotten. Buyers forget about it and opt to just wait for the next round of new listings and repeat the process.

I recently had a friend looking for a house in the $250k range. We got outbid on every offer we wrote. AND WE WERE GOING WAY OVER THE LIST PRICE TOO! One house sold for $30k over the list price and got 17 offers. For that house, all you were doing was trying to outbid some crazy desperate buyer.

Know what I told my friend to do? I told her to stop focusing on new listings. I said let’s look at houses that have been on the market for at least 4 days. There are plenty of them out there. They are the ones that for whatever reason got passed over as a new listings. Sometimes it is because the presentation sucked. Sometimes it is because the price was high. Sometimes it was because the house sucked. Knowing why it was passed over is why you need a good realtor.

So, the next house we see, she decides she wants. And guess what happened? We wrote a full price offer. We put our preferred closing date on the offer. We were able to do a home inspection. It was a pleasant experience. We were also the only offer so guess what? The seller accepted it!

What’s a Buyer to do in this evolving crazy market?

When the market started heating up, the smart buyer’s agent knew to get an offer in ASAP to try to beat other agents to the punch.

Then we all started doing something like saying “Reviewing offers on such and such date and time.” That was nice because you knew that you had time to show the house. If your client couldn’t break away to see it immediately, you could tell them you could do the next day.

Now it has evolved to the point where we are saying “Reviewing offers on such and such date but the seller reserves the right to accept any offer at any time.” So we are back to dropping everything and rushing out to see a new listing ASAP.

What is a poor buyer to do right now to get a house? Make such a strong offer that the seller will want to accept it immediately. Turn the tables and make the Seller chase you! That usually involves 4 big things: Price, inspection, closing date and possession date.

Obviously for price, that means a stupid high number. I can’t believe after spending so many years blogging about not overpaying in a Buyer’s Market, that I am now suggesting people do this. But in this market, it is the difference between getting a home and not getting a home. Instead of “Go big or go home”, it is “Go big to GET a home.”

Inspection…..waive it totally if you can let yourself do it. Having dealt with probably close to 1000 inspections over the past 16 years, I can tell you that I rarely see a house with a deal breaking problem. Most of the issues that would make you want to walk away from the house are typically visible if you look. If it has old HVAC units, well, you know you will have to eventually replace them. Roof have a shingle blown up or need some flashing around a chimney? That’s not worth losing a house over. Plus, most of the time all you can get a seller to do these days is spend $1000 or so on repairs. Most of the items found on a home inspection will probably also be found where you are living now: Some electrical oddities like reversed polarity or an ungrounded outlet in older homes. Various plumbing leaks. A roof, HVAC units or water heater somewhere between new and needing replaced. Most of what is found on a home inspection is deferred maintenance.

A lot of sellers have already bought another home and know when they will be closing on it. Ask their agent what the ideal closing date would be for the sellers. If you can make it work, you have just made your offer much more appealing to them.

Same with the possession date. It’s a pain in the rear to have to be out of your old place the same day you get in your new place. If the house was in reasonably clean shape when you saw it and you don’t think the sellers are terrible people, ask if they need a couple of days to stay in the house after the closing. Some breathing room is always nice. The worst I have seen when this happens is that you often get left some garbage or a dirty house. Most sellers are eager to get to their new place so you don’t really have to worry about them not moving out.

All of these things are a little risky to a buyer. I know. I get it. But the people that do these things are the ones who are going to be moving into that house you fell in love with and were outbid on.

A good realtor is like using the Waze App

I’ve seen a few sellers lately make some bad decisions.

I get it. Selling your home is something you only do so often and I don’t expect them to understand the market and all the obstacles between sticking the sign in the yard and the closing. All they know is that the market is hot and selling your house is easy.

What they don’t know is that keeping it sold can sometimes be a lot of work.

I recently had a friend decide to list with some less experienced agent who was going to reduce the commission. I was going to reduce my commission to ZERO since this person was a friend and they had some circumstances that required them to move, guess I should have told them that sooner. I had been giving advice and working towards getting this done for close to a year. To this seller, all they were thinking about was saving money. Well, you only realize that savings when you close the sale. The house sold and is back on the market. Usually when a house comes back on the market, it doesn’t get the same attention from buyers. Most buyers in the market have already seen it and either said no to the house or made an offer that obviously wasn’t the best one or they would have gotten it the first time. This is where experience is worth every penny, even though I wasn’t planning on getting any pennies from this sale.

I am currently working hard to keep a deal together for a house where the buyer went to do the final walk through before the closing and found the ice maker had been leaking and has caused $12k in damage to the house. I know if my listing goes back on the market, we will never again catch such a fantastically qualified buyer who was the highest bidder, so I better put on my thinking cap and get this done.

These are just a couple of current examples of where experience can make or break a sale. The goal is to get to the closing. I am thinking about the entire process, not just the beginning. Not just the next step.

As I was making my second cup of coffee and thinking about writing this post, it reminded me of the early days of GPS. You’d enter the destination and take off. I think that is how most sellers view this process…….”I’ve got a realtor and they just stuck a sign in the yard. It’s all downhill from here!” If nothing goes wrong, then that is very true. But how often have you had your GPS take a crazy route or not know about construction, wrecks or other annoying delays? It’s the same with real estate. A lot of inexperienced agents don’t know what to lookout for along the way or don’t know how to negotiate. Sometimes you have to take an alternate route. Sometimes you need to change lanes along the way. A good realtor is more like the Waze app……not only are we watching out for delays, we are looking for speed traps and doing it all in real time as we get you to the final destination, which is the closing.

When to walk away after the home inspection

The home inspection is the toughest part of a sale I think.

It can be hard to get past the condition, even a house that inspected pretty good, since your inspector gave you an entire book containing everything that is wrong with what is about to be the biggest purchase in your life.

What I try to tell my buyers is that no house is perfect. They are all in various stages of Mother Nature trying to destroy the home and reclaim the property. Everything has a life span and given enough time, everything on a house will need replaced or some maintenance.

I’ve probably been the Buyer’s agent on well over 400 inspections and gotten repairs lists for hundreds of listings I have had. Know what I have found? Most of the issues that turn up from a home inspection are either deferred maintenance or things that the inspector noted were done a little less than textbook perfection.

Here are some things that are on almost EVERY home inspection report: Windows or door that need caulking, faucets that drip, loose outlets, cracks in sidewalks and driveways, downspouts that are not out far enough away from the house, air conditioner condensation lines that drain too close to the house. Minor plumbing issues are common. Minor electrical issues are common. Often the flashing on a roof needs some attention. Older houses tend to not have grounded outlets. Few houses have weepholes in brick to allow moisture behind the brick to escape. Few houses have flashing where a gutter ends at an exterior wall to prevent water from splashing on the side of the house………and the home inspector I recommend always seems to find loose toilets, lol!

I think the hardest thing for buyers is that they think they have picked a loser house when they have 20-30 of these common issues. It is easy to assume that the house you picked to purchase is the only one with these issues. That you can walk away from this one and the next house you buy will be perfect. I don’t know how successful I have been at convincing my buyers of this, but I normally tell them that 80-90% of the same issues found on their house will be found on any house. I have also joked that there needs to be a rule that the inspector has to inspect the Buyer’s old house first, and anything found at their old house can’t be asked to be repaired at their new house.

Since the topic of this is when to walk away, I guess I better get into that.

If you are a first time buyer or don’t have a lot of money, I guess you walk away if the the big ticket items don’t have much of their lifespan left. If you have a 22 year old roof and won’t have any money to replace it in the next few years, it might be best to walk away.

If you have a house with a problem such as a major structural issue that will impact your ability to sell the house to the next buyer when you move, might be good to skip that house.

When I bought my current home, I had it inspected. It had all the usual issues. I did the inspection type that is very common in this hot seller’s market: I could inspect it but wouldn’t ask for repairs. I would take it or leave it. I of course chose to take it because to be honest, I loved the property so much that there wasn’t anything that was going to deter me from living there. I had all the usual items. Being a landlord, realtor and middle aged man who has owned lots of homes, there was nothing that scared me nor surprised me. It was just a “To-do” list that I prioritized and am getting it all sorted as I find time. Which brings me to something else I tell my buyers. If you will encounter pretty much the same items on any house, why not just stick with the sale of the one you fell in love with after looking at all the other houses you had to pick from? This is especially true in today’s market where you have so few choices and odds are you will pay even more for the next house as prices go up while you wait for it to come on the market.

Sold for 25% OVER list price!!

I listed a manufactured home in a tiny town in northern Scott County on 15 acres last week. I have had it in my pipeline for close to a year so I have been watching the market in the area for a while. Prices have gone up quite a bit, but lately similar properties have all been listed for about $160k.

So we got pictures and put it on for $160k. I fully expected it to sell for a little more since the market value is no longer determined by recent sales. It is determined by how desperate the buyer is.

Turns out they get more desperate every day.

We got 8 offers. 10 actually but two were for a financing type that did not do manufactured homes so we can’t really count those.

One offer was $155k. I always laugh at those buyers and scratch my head. What rock have they been hiding under that they and their realtor don’t know that practically every house in multiple offers goes for at least list price.

Five of the offers had escalation clauses. That is where the buyer pretty much says they will pay so much more than any other offer up to a certain price.

I got one offer for $200k. My mind was blown. No escalation clause. Just a flat $200k.

This gave me the chance to tell the buyer’s agents with the escalation clauses that they might want to up their amount if their buyer really wanted the house.

Fortunately one buyer whose offer had some better secondary terms raised their escalation clause to be $200k. I have seen where people throw out some high number on an escalation clause to get their offer noticed but they have no intention of every going that high. I called that buyer’s agent to confirm they were legitimately willing to go that high. They were. They got the house for $200k. Next step is to convince the appraiser it is worth that.