It’s a buyer’s market these days, they say, so good deals are around, but if it is your goal to “flip” a house, beware. Many are finding that the profits to be made in this risky endeavour are slim to none these days. However, if you are looking for a home for your family, here are some ways to get a good deal in real estate.
1. Time it right. You may find a great deal in the off season, that is when the weather is bad, the holidays are keeping everyone busy, and the winter blues are keeping the other buyers at home. A seller who needs to sell in winter will usually be very happy to negotiate with an interested buyer. Likewise, if you live in a military community, you may find deals right around the time that school lets out. Families finish out the year and pack up, eager to find a buyer quick. If you want waterfront, search when the weather’s bad. A beautiful spring or summer day attracts too many buyers and sells waterfront for the maximum!
2. Keep tabs on areas you like. Some good deals can be had just buy keeping track of what is selling, and more importantly, not selling in the areas that you are interested in. My neighborhood sells well, but a particular house had not been well-maintained by the owners. It languished on the market for months until someone got a great deal, almost $100,000 lowers than the average selling price in the area! If you can wait it out and aren’t afraid of a little work, you can get a great deal.
3. Foreclosures and other desperate sellers are going to be coming out of the woodwork soon. If predictions are correct, the many many homebuyers who were encouraged to take out adjustable rate mortgages and interest only loans could be facing foreclosure or severe financial strain when their rates change in the coming year or so. During the housing boom of the last few years, people did whatever it took to get the house. Soon, you’ll be scooping up some deals when these homes come up for sale.
4. Make contacts. With real estate agents in the family, I have become quite aware that great deals are often snatched up within hours of being listed, namely because agents in the know line up buyers and close the deal immediately. Talk to some reputable agents and make your needs known. In this slow market, you can bet that they will be calling you the minute something comes up that might suit you. I have even received flyers from interested buyers, listing their contact information should someone in the neighborhood be interested in selling. If you are contacted in this way, you can bet that the seller is a bit desperate and might be willing to negotiate. Also, check the FSBOs (for sale by owner – known as “fizz-bo’s” among agents) on the internet as many homeowners do not accurately price their homes.
5. Location matters. The good deals are there, but not always in the exact location you might be looking for. Check neighboring towns, especially smaller ones, that are within commuting distance to your job. Older homes in nice, working class neighborhoods are usually still a bargain, though you may need to invest in renovations and upgrades.
Finding a deal takes patience above all else. Take your time, study the markets that interest you, know the prices and sales histories of the areas you like, make some contacts, and do your homework! Also have your ducks in a row as far as loan preapproval goes to ensure that you don’t lose on a great deal!