How to find a house – in a sellers market

shop for a home in a sellers market

Struggling to buy a home is a daunting reality for home buyers this year. With offers flying left and right, various showings stacked up together and homes seemingly sold before you even have a chance to consider whether or not you should put an offer in – homebuyers are up against a rock and a hard place. With home inventory remaining low and the competition holding fierce, it can be a tough task to find the home of your dreams. The good news is, I have a few tips from my years of experience that can help you weave your way through and end up unpacking boxes in your new digs.

Patience is a virtue

Simple advice, but very helpful in a seller’s market. Make the choice to reset your expectations from finding a house in the next month to more realistically finding a house in the next 4-5 months. With this mental reset, you can allow yourself to know in advance that the home finding journey is just that – a journey. Use the extra time to do local research, neighborhood scouting and an unexpected gift of knowing very well the area you want to live in.

Have a backup plan ready

When you are selling a home as well as looking to purchase a home, you need to be ready with a backup plan from the get go. There is no guarantee that you will be able to close on each home at the same time, so it is wise, especially in light of the way homes in Chester County are flying off the market, to make a backup plan right away. A few example are, finding a potential rental home, or even renting your home back from the buyers until you find a new place. You could also live with family, and save lots of money in the process. Most people cringe at the thought of moving twice, but it might be the best option in a market such as this.

Look around … a LOT

Go to many open houses in your price range – see at least 12 houses and then see some more. Don’t bid on any homes that don’t meet your needs, just because you are afraid you won’t find something else. The best plan is to get a solid handle on the local market without feeling the pressure of making an offer. You’ll learn far more about your true needs and desires that truly matter to you after you have seen plenty of varying layouts, features and price ranges.

Get your finances in order & be able to close quick

Be paperwork ready by being preapproved for a mortgage and have all of your financial information organized and ready. Be sure to have a reputable mortgage lender with a reputation of closing quickly. It is a great idea to give sellers the option of a quick closing – some will even accept a slightly lower offer to get the deal done quickly. Another tip is to use a lender that has an established relationship with your realtor.

Get creative

In thinking about doing local research, after you’ve located several neighborhoods that interest you, knock on a few doors and get a lay of the land. Ask a few people what they like and dislike about living in that location. If you are feeling really outgoing, pass out a few flyers asking if anyone is considering selling in the near future and include your contact information.

Shop around for an agent

Your real estate agent is the key that holds together the long and sometimes frustrating process of buying a house. A good agent knows how to make your offer stand out and should have a great track record of winning more than half of their offers, as well as great rapore with listing agents in the area. Most people interview only one agent before making the decision, but it is a wise choice to speak with a few agents before making your final choice.

Maureen Hughes is the Lead Listing Specialist of The Wayne Megill Real Estate Team of Keller Williams Brandywine Valley in West Chester. For buyer or seller representation, or for more perspective on the local and national real estate market, please email and visit The Wayne Megill Team site at

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