The Key to Low-Stress House Hunting: Define Your Priorities
While the market is shifting, it’s currently still a ways from being balanced or normal in a historical sense. There are more homes for sale now compared to last year, but still fewer than there used to be before the pandemic. According to a report from realtor.com, the number of homes available for purchase is about 43.2% lower than it was in the years 2017 to 2019. That lack of inventory makes for a very competitive market for buyers.
A competitive market may require additional flexibility
If you're looking to buy a home this spring, you might have to be a little more flexible with your must-haves and nice-to-haves. It's important to get pre-approved for a mortgage so you know what you can afford before we start looking, so that you don't fall in love with a home that's out of your price range. The next step I would guide you through is defining your priorities and making sure everyone involved with the buying decision is on the same page.
Focus on your top 3-5 must-haves
To help you prioritize your home search, list your must-haves, nice-to-haves, and dream features. Must-haves are the 3-5 things that you absolutely need in a home to fit your lifestyle. Then you can consider the nice-to-haves, things that would be great to have but aren't dealbreakers. Finally, it’s always good to know what the dream features are, the things that you would love to have but aren't necessary.
Rate homes you see on a scale of 1-10 based on how well they fulfill your priorities
Once you’ve defined the features in each category it’s easier for all parties to understand how a potential home will likely “rate” on a scale of poor fit to best fit. In a competitive market, if you were to rate a home from 1-10 and it’s hitting an 8 or higher, it’s probably time to get serious about submitting an offer.
Priorities can shift as you search - just be sure to communicate the new target
The features in each category may shift as you get more familiar with the market and your buying power. Perhaps you initially felt a feature was just nice-to-have but later realize it's a must-have, or vice versus. Just be sure to keep your agent and any buying partners in the loop on your new perspective so everyone is on the same page about what a "winner" is. The target may change but, keeping your priorities in mind and well-communicated will make the home-buying process less stressful and more efficient.