How to Be a Buyer in a Seller's Market

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Real Estate

You may have heard that it's a seller's market here in Tampa Bay right now, but that doesn't mean that now isn't a good time to buy at all. You just must be a bit savvy. In this article, I'll explain why it's a seller's market, and I'll give you five tips that will help you if you're a buyer.

To begin with, inventory is very low right now. In fact, two January statistics that jumped out at me on a recent report concerning Pinellas County real estate were the 29% decrease in inventory (available houses for sale) compared to Jan. 2019, and the 32% decrease in months’ supply of inventory from 3.1 months to 2.1 months during the same time. At the same time, buyer demand is quite high; those record low mortgage rates are inspiring many people to take the leap into home ownership. In addition, the weather is great this time of year, which means more people are willing to go out and look at homes for sale. On top of that, the buyer pool in Tampa Bay is larger now due to the tourists and snowbirds being in town. 

Between the weather, lack of supply, and high buyer demand, if you've been thinking of selling, now is a great time. As an illustration, the three listings we've had thus far in 2020 all went under contract in fewer than four days. If you list your home and price and market it correctly, it should sell quickly at close to, or maybe even above, the listing price. But what does this mean for buyers?

1. If you're seriously in the market to buy a home, you can't be a weekend warrior. You'll want to see new listings as soon as they go live on the market AND be ready to make a quick decision about whether you want to make an offer.

2. If you are thinking of making an offer, make sure you have your pre-approval letter (not a pre-qualification letter) or a proof of funds letter if you're paying with cash. In this market, sellers are receiving multiple verbal offers before anything is written, so sellers want to know who is serious. A letter stating you can afford the house demonstrates that you are.

3. When you make your offer, don't make a lowball offer, especially if the home is priced according to recently sold comparable properties. Ask your Realtor about pricing strategy -- don't rely on info from that company that rhymes with "pillow" when you are deciding how much you'd be willing to spend. 

4. Here is another conversation to have with your Realtor: What else can be negotiated besides the price to help make your offer strong? Ask your Realtor to explain how inspection periods, appraisal contingencies, escrow deposits, seller credits, etc., can impact your offer.

5. Finally, in a seller's market, if you're buying, you can't be a perfectionist. When inventory is low and buyer demand is high, you probably won't find the EXACT home in the EXACT condition in the EXACT location at the EXACT price that you want. You will have to be flexible.

For more information on buying a home, check out our Buyer's Playlist on YouTube!