A normal level of homes for sale is a three to four month supply. The Columbia market has less than a one month’s supply and has been in that condition for a few months now.
In many cases, a home will sell in a day or less. Showings are usually allowed in fifteen minute segments and finding an open slot to show a property on the day it becomes active is tough. It’s becoming the norm for seller’s agents to request highest and best offers by a certain date and time to aggregate all of the offer options for the seller to review at once. And even then, sellers may also choose one or two back up offers in case the primary one falls through for some reason.
If you’re considering purchasing a home and are just looking, online sources such as Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com give you access to mostly current inventory to browse from the convenience of your own device without having to go in person. The downside to these sites is that the data feed is not always instant. A home you see this morning as active may have gone under contract the day before and is no longer available.
Once you become serious about purchasing, the crucial first step is to speak with a lender to get pre-approved. The days of submitting an offer without a lender already willing to work with you for a loan are over; with multiple offers on almost every home, if you submit an offer without being approved for a loan, your chances of winning the bid are virtually zero.
While the standard contract of sale allows for five business days to seek loan approval, it’s not wise to proceed without it. There’s another important piece of information that comes with a lender review of your financials: you learn your true buying power. You may discover you can buy a higher priced home than you thought. Or, you may find out that your budget needs to fit in a lower priced property instead.
A surprising new trend is emerging, with buyers offering over the property’s listing price. It’s no longer enough to say you’re willing to pay full price for a property; that kind of offer may not be successful in a bidding war. The value of working with an experienced real estate agent cannot be over emphasized, as the agent will help guide you to terms that could help you be the winning offer.
Other considerations include:
•Are you asking the seller the contribute towards your closing costs?
•Are you wanting the seller to provide a home warranty?
•What type of financing are you using – Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA Rural Housing, cash?
•Do you have any contingencies, such as needing to list and/or sell your current home?
•Are you requesting any items in the home to remain, such as appliances, washer/dryer?
•How soon can you close? 30 days, 45 days, 60 days?
If you can afford the time to be patient, start looking as soon as you know you want or need to buy a home and have all of your documents ready when you begin. It may take longer to get the home you want, but it will be worth it in the end. Interest rates remain at historic lows, meaning it will cost you less to borrow.