Lately I have had the pleasure to work with several first-time homebuyers and a few buyers relocating to Nashville from other regions. Many of those buyers have been shocked at how quickly decisions need to be made in the Nashville-area market. As a friend said to me last year when purchasing a house – “I have spent more time making a decision about buying a pair of shoes than I have spent deciding to buying this house!” This crazy, fast-paced market can be intimidating for buyers and sellers, but it is possible to make an informed yet quick decision!
1. Talk to your lender.
Before buyers can begin their research, they need to know how much house they can afford! You wouldn’t shop for a Bentley on a Schwinn budget! That’s where the lender comes in. Buyers should speak with a variety of lenders and obtain a prequalification letter from the lender of their choice. It is always possible to speak with additional lenders later, but in today’s competitive market, buyers need to be prepared to submit a prequalification letter along with their offer in order to be competitive with other potential buyers.
2. Do your homework.
I highly recommend that buyers spend time looking at houses online to get a feel for current inventory. It is important to be realistic about how much house your money will buy. It is tempting to shop above budget in the hopes of getting a “good deal” but in the current Nashville-area market, many houses are selling above listing price, not under. During the research process, buyers may learn that sacrifices need to be made (size, condition, number of bedrooms or bathrooms) in order to live in certain neighborhoods. Realtors are also a great resource during this research process as we may be able to recommend certain areas or neighborhoods to put on a buyer’s “watch list” that a buyer might otherwise have failed to consider.
3. Get lost.
One of my real estate mentors likes to tell her buyer clients that one of the best ways to learn an area is to get lost driving around in that area. In other words, buyers can learn a lot about a community when they spend a few hours merely driving around to see what they can discover. So, plan a few weekend drives with the goal of getting lost (and be sure to take note of any interesting neighborhoods that you may discover)!
4. Talk to your Realtor!
Buyers (and sellers) need to be prepared for the possibility that the sellers will receive multiple offers on their home. Realtors can educate buyers and sellers about the multiple offer process. This often involves setting up a multiple offer procedure that allows all interested buyers to produce their “highest and best” offer by a specified date and time. Realtors can help buyer clients prepare offers that will be as attractive as possible to sellers. Beware – it is easy to get swept up in the multiple offer excitement! A Realtor can work with buyers to ensure that they are not overpaying or giving up important rights or contingencies in the battle to “win” the house.