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4 Things to Do to Score a Home Now & the One Thing You Absolutely Shouldn't

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If you're like me and love skimming real estate listings, then you know the real estate market has been rough. Prices are up; inventory is historically low as are interest rates. If you're looking to upsize your living accommodations, then you're in for a bit of a bidding war.

vipHomeLInk, the leading home management app for homeowners, is here to help you navigate the intense market. In February 2021, we surveyed 390 real estate agents from across the United States and asked for their views on the competitive and challenging nature of the current real estate market.

Here's the key findings and quick tips to help you find and enjoy the home of your dreams. 

The overstate state of the real estate market

Almost all real estate agents agreed that it's currently a strong seller's market, fueled by low inventory and resulting in higher-than-average prices. (Not a shocking revelation.) More than 80% of respondents believe the market will stay strong for sellers through the first half of 2021.

Some good news to report - almost half of realtors (45%) believe there will be "moderate volume increases," with 19% believing there will be "strong volume increases." But for those looking to score a deal, survey respondents unfortunately expect prices to rise with more than 90% believing in strong or moderate price increases through July 2021. 

How to score your new home 

Time to get your keys!

In this highly competitive market, we'll help you gain an edge with four things you can do that will help you score your dream home.

Embrace the virtual tour 

Many homesellers do not feel comfortable allowing buyers into their homes, so at times, the only way you'll be able to see a home is through a virtual tour.

"Lack of buyers physically touring the homes. Everything is virtual due to travel. Unless it's a vacant property, sellers are very concerned about COVID restrictions being followed."

 - a real estate professional based in Charlotte, North Carolina, with more than 21 years of experience
Home touring has gone virtual.

"Homeowners are afraid of open houses or have too many buyers at their homes because they are afraid of COVID."

- a real estate professional based in Queens, New York, with more than 11 years of experience

Even if you do get a window to see the home, you may need to make your visit quick. Some agencies and sellers limit the amount of time you're allowed to assess a property.

Shortened tours are also the norm.

"When a listing is expected to sell quickly - showing times are limited often to only 15 minutes - so that there are no overlapping showings. I completely understand, but it's difficult to truly see a home that a buyer is interested in - with only 15 minutes."

- a real estate professional based in Charlotte, North Carolina, with more than 11 years of experience

Make the most of the time you get inside the home, whether in-person or virtual. Here's a list of the important items you need to look for when exploring a home! 

Get preapproved 

Are you preapproved?

In an insanely competitive market, you need to be a strong candidate in order to secure a home amidst low inventory and multiple offers. In fact, some real estate agents won't even show a home to buyers without pre-approval.

"Only very serious buyers are being entertained by realtors. No more lookers, only those who are prepared to make an offer by being pre-qualified and ready to purchase."

- a real estate professional based in Charlotte, North Carolina, with more than 21 years of experience
Preapproval is essential for seeing a home.

"Not showing homes without a pre-approval in hand, helps to save time for both sides."

 - a real estate professional based in Raleigh, North Carolina, with more than four years of experience

Learn the ins and outs of the preapproval process in Shopping for a Home? Know The Mortgage Preapproval Process.

Be prepared to fight for your home 

Low inventory means multiple offers.

With the market benefitting sellers and buyers who can present cash-only offers, first-time home buyers are at disadvantage, especially those who require mortgage assistance.

"I am seeing pricing increases right now at a rate that could create a bubble. This is concerning as I am seeing homes sell for 10%+ over asking. I also see first-time buyers unable to compete, particularly FHA buyers." 

- a real estate professional based in Denver, Colorado, with more than 11 years of experience
First-time home buyers may struggle in this market.

"Our current 2021 real estate market with low housing inventory and constant bidding wars is not allowing first time home buyers or anyone with low cash reserves to get in the game." 

- a real estate professional based in Raleigh, North Carolina, with more than 21 years of experience

When getting preapproval, ask your mortgage lender for all the options available to you, so you can present your most competitive offer to the sellers.

Get more mortgage tips in First-Time Home Buying 101: Top 5 Mortgage Tips.

Consider new construction 

Consider building your home.

One surprising trend that has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic is the increased demand for new construction. Some home buyers who lost bidding wars for current dwellings have turned to building their next home. This has helped to alleviate the challenge of multiple offers and the financial fallout of forgoing appraisals and home inspections.

"In our area, no sign of residential sales slowing down, continuing strong, especially new construction homes."

– a real estate professional based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with more than four years of experience.

Speaking of home inspections…

What not to do - skip home inspections and appraisals 

Learn all you can about your new home before you buy it.

The low inventory of the market caused a disturbing trend in the home buying experience - buyers are skipping necessary due diligence on a property, including appraisals and home inspections.

"A home inspection includes all of the different things that can come into play, especially if you're a first-time buyer," says Jack Shoptaw, senior vice president of Century 21 New Millennium, in Millennials: 5 Tips You Need to Know to Get Your Dream Home. "You can see from the report that everything is aging. If you're already pushing your budget to afford this home, then you may incur financial difficulty to pay for those repairs in the coming years."

This can be compounded by the increased prices of homes, so before you choose a home, make sure you can afford it - repairs and all.

What does a home inspection entail? Check out this interview with a certified master inspector

Once you're in your new home - 

Download vipHomeLink today!

It's time to take care of it, and the vipHomeLink home management app can help! Our personalized reminders for home maintenance can help you know what to do and when to do it around your new home. Our tailored recommendations can help you improve your home, and our Money Meter can show you how much value you've added to your home – simply by taking care of it!

Give your house a home with vipHomeLink. Subscribe today with a monthly or annual membership.

Are you a real estate agent? Read our full report - The State of the Real Estate Market - now! 

Survey methodology and background 

The vipHomeLink H1 - 2021 Realtor Outlook Survey was conducted as a web-based survey between February and March 2021. It consisted of 18 questions, and survey respondents were asked to evaluate statements regarding key aspects of the real estate market using associated 4-point Likert scales. Survey respondents included 390 real estate agents and brokers in 14 states. More than 90% of respondents had more than four years of experience in the industry, with 18% having more than 30 years.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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