Be Ready for the Housing Market’s Reopening

Prepare

We hear so much every day about making decisions based on facts and data. Here’s a fact for you: Demand for homes is on the rise.

According to Southern California real estate numbers guru Steven Thomas’ Reports on Housing, demand for homes in Orange County is up 9% from the low point two weeks ago.

While the stay-at-home orders have not yet been lifted, we are all anticipating a loosening very soon, and qualified, motivated buyers are taking advantage of the designation of the essential service granted to the real estate industry and are out buying houses again.

Word on the street is that there is so much pent-up demand, that once we can officially leave home again, the housing market is going to be moving very quickly.

How can you stay ahead of the curve as an active homebuyer today?

1. Get your finances in order.

File your 2019 income tax return, if you haven’t done so already. Call your lender and get your loan application submitted, approved, and have your loan pre-approval letter in hand.

Then go a step further. Get a pre-approval letter in $5,000 increments. For example, if your target purchase price is $750,000, have your lender produce 10-15 letters with approved purchase prices of $735,000, $740,000, $745,000, $750,000, and so on.

That way you will have immediate access to a letter that matches the price on the house you might offer to buy. This is a tricky business since most sellers are asking for a pre-approval letter prior to letting you see the house in person. Three months ago, your pre-approval letter would have been expected with your offer. Now, it is expected before you can even set foot inside.

Be mindful not to tip your hand to the sellers with an amount too far above your initial negotiating position.  Your agent can help you with an appropriate strategy here.

2. Investigate all potential homes that might be a match for you, using all the online resources you can find.

Under these current constrained conditions, most home listings will have more than the usual amount of information stored online – such as 3D tours, virtual open houses, floor plans, property tax, and HOA information. This is the time to click every link, button, tab, and attachment and see what you can discover about the homes that appeal to you.

3. Have all of your personal protection equipment ready and waiting. Work out the logistics before you get in the car to meet your agent at the first house on your tour.

As the leading health officials will tell us, the virus is not gone. It is still out there, and we have to all be careful to protect ourselves and others.

But with proper precautions, you can get the job done safely.

Leslie Sargent Eskildsen | Orange County Register

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