Buying Boston Area Real Estate in a Seller’s Market

Buying Boston area real estate in any market can be challenging enough, not to mention trying to get through the maze in a seller’s market.

The biggest challenge facing homebuyers looking for Boston area real estate may be finding a home to buy. The inventory of available homes for sale remains low in most areas, especially in certain price ranges. This lends to making it a strong seller’s market right now.

Tips for Buying Boston Area Real Estate Right Now

Buying Boston area real estate should begin by researching homes online

A seller’s market means that buyers have to be smart and prepared if they want to get the right house at the right price. Prospective buyers should start by looking online at homes, narrowing down neighborhood choices and deciding between must-have and preferred features.

At the same time, buyers should visit a mortgage professional and get their financing in order. It’s best to start that process before you start looking at homes, in case your credit needs repair or you need to pay off debts to qualify for a mortgage. In a competitive market like we’re in now, having a mortgage pre-approval could mean the difference in your offer being accepted or rejected in lieu of another that may come in at the same time.

Expect to provide lots of documentation to get a mortgage. Since the recession, mortgage lenders have become much stricter about documentation, income verification and other paperwork. Well-qualified buyers can still get a mortgage, with rates for 30-year loans hovering around 3.65 to 3.75 percent. Borrowing has become a much more difficult and cumbersome process.

Check out neighborhoods you’re thinking about at different times of day. A quiet neighborhood during the middle of the workday may be noisy and crowded at night and on weekends. Get out and walk the streets, talking to people who live in the neighborhood, visiting shops and restaurants and “trying out” your desired location. Drive to and from work during commuting hours to get an idea of what a typical day might be like.

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Make a needs and wants list. In a competitive market, most buyers find they have to compromise on location, amenities or condition of a home. It’s easier to make a choice when you know going in which features you must have and which you’d like to have but can live without when buying Boston area real estate. Be flexible and prepared to compromise.

Be ready to move fast. Buying Boston area real estate in good condition and priced right will be a challenge, as most of these types of homes sell very quickly, sometimes the first day they go on the market. You need to be ready to make a decision when you find a home you like.

Don’t expect to get a red hot deal. The days of getting buying Boston area real estate at a discount are long gone. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever get a substantial discount on a house that needs work, is in a less popular location or otherwise is in less demand. But in a seller’s market, there is usually very little negotiating room on price.

Understand that no house is perfect. Making your offer contingent on a home inspection is a good move, but all homes have small defects. Many sellers won’t fix anything, and there is no reason for them to if there is a backup offer waiting if you walk away.

Find a way to sweeten your offer. Most people buying Boston area real estate can’t pay all cash, but there are ways beyond price to make your offer more attractive to a seller. Have your agent ask the seller’s agent if he would like a faster or slower closing. Consider whether you can waive mortgage or inspection contingencies (which does not mean forgoing an inspection), go without a seller-provided warranty or otherwise improve the deal from the seller’s perspective.

Don’t buy more than you can afford. Lenders will often approve a buyer for a higher payment than he or she can make comfortably. When you’re calculating what you can afford to pay, remember that a mortgage payment is only part of the cost of homeownership. Make sure you’re taking into account all the secondary costs involved with buying Boston area real estate, including insurance, taxes, lawn maintenance, condo or homeowners association fees, repairs and even furniture.

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Don’t buy a house you don’t love. While most buyers may have to compromise on some of the features they want, they shouldn’t settle for a home they don’t like. If you don’t find the right home this year, maybe you should rent and try again later rather than make a purchase you’ll end up regretting. Make sure you have a really strong emotional attachment to what you want to buy, but don’t let it influence your decision on offering price beyond the ridiculous.

Get more information as it pertains to buying Boston area real estate in our section on Boston Home Buying Tips to your right under Boston Real Estate Categories.

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