1. Know what’s important to you.
Get your real estate agent to help you do a lifestyle check and identify what you must have to be happy in a property. Is it the commute, the availability of restaurants, or do you insist on a lot of open space? Is a doorman building absolutely necessary or would you be okay with a fifth floor walk-up? Prioritize early so you can make trade-offs more easily when you find the right property.
2. Plan to spend more time looking.
Unless you’re lucky or have few demands, the tight inventory will probably require more effort to find good options. Understand that it may take you 6 months to a year to find the right home. In addition, you may have to endure a few bidding wars to finally get the home you desire. Maintain a level-head, understand the market and it's dearth of inventory, and keep your eye on the prize --- as frustrating as it may become.
3. Get your ducks in a row before you start looking.
Do yourself a big favor and do not start your house hunt until you assess your qualifications. Find a real estate agent you trust who can inform you of such things as: financial requirements for co-ops, neighborhood market updates, pricing and inventory, the purchase timeline, the difference between co-ops and condos, closing costs, etc... Meet with a mortgage broker, get pre-approved for a mortgage loan, and have an attorney lined up in advance. You want to be knowledgeable during your search and able to move immediately when you find a property you like.
4. Make your best offer first.
When a new, desirable property hits the market, be prepared to make a full price offer. If you're in the game of low-balling, you may learn fast that this market doesn't favor you. If you’re able, include incentives such as putting down more than 20-25 percent and being flexible with closing timelines. For those properties that have been on the market for more than 2-3 months, discuss the best bidding strategy with your real estate agent.
5. Keep your contingencies to a minimum.
Much like #4, be sure your offer has as few contingencies as possible. If you are contemplating removing financing/mortgage contingencies (if you're obtaining a mortgage), discuss this decision in depth with your real estate attorney so that you understand what the potential consequences may be.
Right now, we are in a market where the demand outweighs the supply --- there are more buyers than sellers. Being prepared to make quick decisions, to bid aggressively and to move fast on a property you love is essential to staying ahead of the "seller's curve". Happy house hunting!
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
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