Preparing to succeed in today’s real estate market takes strategic planning, patience, flexibility, and expert guidance. These are some of our pointers in how to make a strategic plan to buy or sell real estate in WNC.
In general, but especially in today’s Western North Carolina real estate market, preparedness always wins. Even if you aren’t quite ready to buy or sell, preparing 8-12 months in advance of when you do want to make your move will set you up for success. It’s best to be decisive about when you want to be ready to make your move, and work backward from there to create your plan.
How can you be prepared as a buyer when that perfect house hits the market?
Understand the market and what it takes to win offers.
- Work with an agent to know listing to selling percentages in the area you would like to purchase. Are properties selling over listing or under listing value and by how much on average?
- Understand with your agent how many homes are available in the area where you would like to search. How many homes have sold in the past year? How often did these homes come on the market?
- Be prepared and know how much deposit it takes to win deals, and know if that deposit is refundable or non-refundable.
- Know how long you typically have to investigate the property once under contract.
- Know if you will have the ability to negotiate after you are under contract.
Prepare the best vision of yourself as a financially-qualified buyer.
- One way to ensure advance planning is to consider your financing options now. Provide the lender all documents needed and wait for a hard credit pull until the timing is right; in other words, only pull credit when you need to. You should also, if needed, work with your lender to discuss strategies to better your credit scenario months in advance.
- If you will be making a cash offer, have a bank letter or proof of funds ready to accompany your offer.
- If you are working with a lender, be fully approved with all documentation reviewed and approved with the lender. Finding something out later that disqualifies you from a loan can come at several thousand dollars expense. Send a preapproval letter from the lender with the terms of your lending to accompany your offer.
- Lenders also require a proof of funds statement, which states that you have the funds for the deposit of your loan. Submitting a proof of funds for your down payment helps sellers feel more comfortable with a lending buyer, especially if the buyer shows they have more than enough funds in their bank account to cover the deposit, and any amount that the property may not appraise if the offer is above list price in competitive offer scenarios. This has become very important in today’s market to compete with cash offers.
Have your agent, lender, attorney, and inspection team ready.
- Have a relationship with a knowledgeable agent you know cares and has your back! In our market, winning the best properties can require non-refundable deposits with several thousand dollars down. Because of this it’s imperative to forecast potential issues with a home before going into a contract. Negotiating once you find out all the details can be difficult when the sellers know that the buyer has significant skin in the game.
- Check with the lender to see how short of a closing period they can accommodate.
- Know the attorney you are going to work with in advance, and check with the attorney to see how short of a closing period they can accommodate. Make sure you know the closing attorney’s or title officer’s fees for the closing transaction.
- Know what type of inspections or service providers you will need for different types of properties, the cost of those inspections, and how long they will need to be completed. For instance, in our current market many surveyors are booking months out especially for larger tracts, so working on a 30 day closing timeframe while also needing a survey would prove difficult to accomplish.
How can you be prepared to sell?
- Begin the process of decluttering, packing, and/or selling useless items. Removing the “you” from a property can allow others to better see themselves in the home. It can also start the process of officially committing to the move, which can be helpful with long-term preparation. Closer to listing time, remove personal pictures and collectibles, and prepare a staged vision of your home comparable to that of a hotel room. If the furniture has been removed, present as clean of a house as possible and discuss staging with your listing agent.
- Start now with maintaining the gutters and drainage so that your home and soil around the home are as dry as possible. Moisture in our area is one of the highest degrading factors to a property’s condition. Removing the moisture and/or correcting bad gutter drainage issues can help demonstrate a well-maintained property.
- Make any large or small repairs necessary to achieve the best value. Work with your listing agent to know what could be done to your home now to bring you a better value.
- Touch up your landscaping and street view of the home you are selling. Trim bushes away from the house, add mulch and flowers to the front, trim tree branches overhanging the home, cut the grass, all help to create an excellent curb appeal.
- Deep clean the house and windows. If you have pet dander in the house, a duct cleaning is also a good idea. A clean property gives the buyer a feeling that the property is well cared for. In most cases, these properties have buyers that are willing to offer more and are comfortable with giving more non-refundable money down.
- One additional way to know you are presenting the best product these days is to do pre-inspections. They are not always necessary but can be helpful in properties that have been neglected when a seller wants to preemptively make repairs. Once you’ve received your report and made the repairs you’ve elected to make, you can have the inspector come back out and adjust the report. This is another factor that will allow for higher offers and more confidence from the buyer as to the home’s condition.
How can you plan ahead to make the buy/sell combo happen?
Make strategic contingency offers! The buy/sell combo can be tricky to navigate in the current market, but there are ways to make attractive contingency offers. One strategic approach is to fully prepare your listing for the home you are planning on selling before you make your contingent offer. This shows the seller and their agent that you are serious about selling and are ready to go live with your listing as soon as they accept your offer. This sets you up for better success in both getting your offer accepted and moving quickly to make the buy/sell combo happen.
Finally, consider how the current market can work in your favor.
There are a lot of tricky questions to navigate in the current real estate market, but there are a lot of opportunities as well. One question that comes up frequently is, “how can I, as a potential seller, be confident in listing my home when the listing inventory is so scarce?” Working with an expert real estate agent is a key here. One important thing to remember is that there is presumably a backlog of listings coming available once potential sellers find somewhere to buy!
Another common worry we’ve observed has been rising real estate prices. Remember to consider that you, too, have gained X amount of equity in this market. While what you stand to buy has gone up in value and price as well, these two factors can balance out laterally in today’s economic conditions. Also bear in mind how real estate values have performed over time. There are certainly cycles to the market, yet there has also been a demonstrated trend of long-term appreciation in US real estate, even factoring in the Great Recession. Here’s a website documenting the growth of US real estate values over time.
Considering buying or selling (or both!) in Western North Carolina? We are helping our clients throughout the region achieve success in the real estate market, and we would be honored to do the same for you. This can be achieved through our strategic and expert guidance that will meet your unique goals and needs. Give us a call at 828-782-5582 or send us an email today to start the conversation – advance planning is your friend in 2022!