Buyers, now’s the time to update your buying strategies

Anyone who is buying – or just checking out – a house in our unique Northeast PA market is likely to find that some of the rules of the “buyers market” game seem to have shifted.

As the latest housing statistics continue to paint an upbeat picture, at least when it comes to bargain-priced properties, the days of multiple bids and ‘offers over asking’ are showing some new appearance. And, if you are – rightfully – considering buying a house in our area before interest rates and prices rise in earnest, it would be useful to take a look at some strategies that work — and some that virtually never do:

1)                  Blanket low-balling – Running around writing up a bunch of low-ball offers is a surefire way to get yourself ignored, or worse, miss out on an otherwise great property. A better approach?  Work with a knowledgeable agent whose expertise in area neighborhoods will allow you to check on the most recent comps, then write a serious offer.

2)                  Dismissing Imperfect Properties – The degree of your success in buying a house in town can depend on starting out with a reality check: only very rarely is a property totally perfect for you and priced absolutely right.

3)                  Highest and Best – Unfortunately, the tempting low prices listed for some local bank-owned homes also means that it’s increasingly common to encounter the dreaded “multiple offer situation.”  If you find yourself there, be prepared to submit your highest and best offer first — you may not have another shot.

This changing market doesn’t mean we are headed into the kind of fever-induced ‘bubble’ we saw in the mid- 2000’s.  But for those seeking a deal and waiting for the bottom of the market before buying a house in town, the market does not seem to be waiting. 2013 is clearly the time to jump in!

 

First time home buyers plan in advance

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It can happen when you least expect it: the opportunity you’ve been thinking about for awhile suddenly opens up – and you realize your time to become a homeowner has arrived!

Maybe the landlord of the Lake Wallenpaupack home you’ve been renting suddenly decides it’s time to sell. Or, during a search for a rental, you happen upon a new local listing that’s such a bargain you’d be crazy not to snap it up!  Life is always presenting unexpected opportunities to us and it’s no different to the first time home. So, if you haven’t prepared for this moment – in advance – you may well be disappointed.

Advance planning is the key to successful first time home buyers

Job One is to take very seriously the sometimes arbitrary-seeming Rules of the Road for credit scoring.  Money Magazine recently reported the average FICO credit score for denied conventional loan applicants was 729…a pretty darn good score for anything else. The score on approved loans was 762 — after an average 21% down payment!

Successful first-time buyers have kept their options open by lining up their ducks well in advance — completing at least two mandatory steps. So, if you haven’t done so, right now would be the appropriate time to start!

  1. Get your accounts in order. If it comes time to pull the trigger, every bank will look closely at every bank account you have. They look for “seasoned” funds, meaning cash that has been on hand for at least three months (sometimes six), untouched.   First time homebuyers will have established the total amount needed for a down payment — or have a clear trail of the origin of the assets they will sell to get it.
  2. Check your debt.  Banks are looking for a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 33%.  If you got a little too festive with your credit cards during last month’s holiday season, start paying down those balances.

Buying a first home is an exciting decision that can be as fun as it is stressful.  Having prepared in advance will accentuate the fun part, just as having the right agent by your side will, too.  If and when the opportunity to become one of our local first-time buyers presents itself  — or even if you have any questions about how to prepare — give me a call!

How about a few ideas to help our Lake Wallenpaupack homes sellers banish these winter blues?

As fall becomes early winter, the crisp air, festive celebrations and holiday spirit do their job of gladdening local hearts. However, after the eggnog bowl disappears — once January rolls around and the holiday decorations go into cartons — it’s common to feel varying degrees of the ‘winter blues.’

Actually, the experts call that Seasonal Affective Disorder, but since the acronym is ‘SAD,’ I prefer ‘winter blues.’  For anybody who’s been feeling a little down, particularly if you have a local property that’s been on the market without attracting much activity, this is a good time to take a moment to bring back some cheer to your property!

The quickest spirit-elevator is to simply lay out colorful pillows, throws, or little details like punchy candles or tablecloths. Then roll up the shades during the day to let in more light  – and not only when your property is scheduled for a showing (drive-by prospects are put off by a shuttered-looking house).

Feeling trapped indoors?  Consider using that extra indoor time to de-clutter your property — just a little freshening up really does lift spirits. If these short daylight hours are getting you down, see if switching one or two lamps over to “full spectrum” light bulbs has an effect.  They mimic natural light; for some people, they affect mood in the same way that natural sunlight does. You can also experiment with a sunlamp specifically designed to help those with more pronounced seasonal sensitivity.

Finally, if the winter blues threaten (and a Caribbean vacation is out of the question), why not simply embrace the season?   Bundle up, get outside, and connect with nature, especially on those glorious windless local days when the sun is shining.

But what to do when it’s cold, dark, and damp? I know that days like that remind me to be grateful for clothes that keep me warm, a warm bed to sleep in, and a safe property to house the family. They also make me really appreciate the warm ones!

Have a local property question?  I’m standing by all winter long with answers. Call anytime!