It’s a seller’s market in the Lakes Region. Home sellers have the upper hand because the number of buyers often exceeds the inventory of homes listed for sale. That means buyers are battling against other buyers.

In this market, you may have to act like a “guerilla buyer” in order to win the battle for your new home.

Guerilla warfare describes when a small, outmatched force uses fast-moving, often unconventional tactics in order to prevail against a larger, more predictable and orthodox opponent.

Following are some tips on how to be a victorious guerilla buyer in this seller’s market.

Guerrilla buyers secure victory with lightning-fast strikes. Speed requires preparation.

Yes, it can feel scary and overwhelming to buy a home: It is a critical decision and one of life’s biggest commitments, but in this market, you often can’t afford the luxury of hesitation. Attractive, well-maintained and appropriately priced homes can go under agreement in a flash. You may have to strike quickly so another buyer doesn’t end up with the home of your dreams.

In order to act quickly, you must be pre-approved (not just prequalified) for financing (unless you are a cash buyer) and you must have an established relationship with a buyer agent.

If you haven’t done so already, get pre-approved for financing before taking any other steps. I know, completing mortgage paperwork is not as fun as searching for homes online, touring properties and attending open houses, but sellers take pre-approved buyers more seriously and buyers who are pre-approved can rapidly submit offers, while unprepared buyers anxiously await financing approval.

Pre-approval will also help you establish a realistic buying budget that considers all of your housing expenses, including taxes and, if applicable, association fees.

Finally, the pre-approval process will also help you determine four very important things: what type of financing is available to you, how much interest it will cost, how much money you’ll have to put down, and how long it will take to “close” (legally transfer property ownership from seller to buyer) once the seller has accepted your offer.

Next, if you haven’t already done so, establish a relationship with a buyer’s agent … today.

Guerilla buyers are prepared for battle. They don’t lose the home buying fight to other buyers who didn’t have scramble to find a buyer’s agent after finding a home they love.

Buyer agent representation doesn’t cost you anything, as the agent’s commission is paid by the seller, but it could cost you big time if you lack representation or lose time securing it after you went to the open house of your dreams.

Your real estate professional will bring professional power to the search and help you find homes you may not have been able to find on your own. Sometimes they know of potential properties before they’re even listed!

Further, they can help you obtain valuable information on the home’s condition, location and site, provide advice on market conditions, current prices and issues that may impact later resale values, and they can help you negotiate the best price when you do place an offer.

In addition to quick-strike capabilities, guerilla buyers sometimes use unconventional tactics to gain a strategic advantage. Following are a few tactical suggestions.

Just as a guerrilla force studies the battlefield terrain and the opposing force, a guerrilla buyer may study the history of both the property and its seller, looking for clues to strategic advantage. Work on this with your buyer agent, as he or she will have access to MLS (Multiple Listing Service) information that is not readily available civilians on Zillow and other homes search portals.

For example, the MLS system offers a little blue ‘H’ button that shows a property’s history. One can also enter the property address into the system’s power search bar to see previous listings.

Doing your homework on the property can give you valuable information. When was it listed last? How long have the current sellers owned this home? How much did they pay? How long was it on market before it went under agreement? How much did it sell for, compared to the listing price? How many times (if any) was the price lowered? How long did it take to close (this can give you an idea if the last buyer paid cash or financed)?

It’s helpful to have an idea if the previous buyer paid cash or financed. Financed deals often take 45 to 60 days to close, while cash buys might happen in two weeks or even less. Sellers who don’t have mortgages to pay off may have more negotiation flexibility than those who must pay off a note in order to sell the house.

Also, don’t overlook houses that have been on the market for some time. Some homes linger on the market, and that can be to the guerrilla buyer’s advantage. The longer a house sits on market, the fewer the number of buyers who tend to look. Accordingly, there tends to be a relationship between the number of days on market and a seller’s willingness to negotiate.

When seeing a property at a showing or open house, be sure to ask the listing agent why their client is selling. You won’t always get a comprehensive answer (that agent’s job is to protect the seller’s best interests), but you might just learn information that can give valuable insight into the seller’s motivation to sell and capability to negotiate.

You can complement this information by doing some online research into the seller’s name, which is typically available in the MLS and documents pertaining to the property and its sale. How old is the seller? Where do they live now? Were there any changes in relationships (e.g. marriage, divorce, obituary notices)?

In this seller’s market, you may have to act like a “guerrilla buyer” in order to win the battle against other buyers for your new home, but, if you are prepared, ready, and able to strike fast, and willing to incorporate some guerrilla strategies and tactics into your home search, you can be victorious.

***

Brent Metzger is a Realtor® with Roche Realty Group in Meredith. Contact him at 603-229-8322 or brent@rocherealty.com. To learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market, visit www.RocheRealty.com.

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