Jamie Wallace is trying to buy a home in a seller’s market. Based on her circumstances, she thought she’d have an easy time of it. A year later she’s still trying to find the right home for her and her daughter.
Homeowner: Jamie Wallace
Project: Buy a home in a seller's market
Budget: $350,000 – $400,000
I’m trying to buy a house in my home town – Ipswich, MA – a small, coastal, New England town. Except for a few brief stints in neighboring towns, I've lived here nearly all my life.
Upon learning (almost exactly a year ago) that my current landlord had plans to move back into his house, I immediately started house hunting. I thought it would be a piece of cake since I had a whole year to find the perfect place; and I'd have a leg up on competing buyers because I was both pre-approved AND – more importantly – didn't have anything to sell. Boy, was I naive! Ipswich has become one of the hottest real estate markets in Northeastern Massachusetts. It's hard to buy a home in a seller's market.
My Requirements & How to Buy a Home In a Seller’s Market
My ideal house is
- Single family, between 1400 and 1800 square feet.
- 2 bedrooms.
- Open floor plan.
- >1.5 bathrooms.
- On a side street or set back from the main road.
- I'd love an acre or so, even more if I could find it.
Age is totally negotiable. Ipswich has the highest concentration and greatest quantity of First Period homes of any town in America. Though I love the antiques, they may be more maintenance than I can manage as a single mother. My sweet spot for age is probably 1900 – 1940. Anything beyond that starts to lose some charm in my book.
It's Hard to Buy a Home in a Seller's Market
Here are some of the challenges I've faced. There's a lot more competition and it's unexpected, so it's I'm learning why it's really hard to buy a home in a seller's market.
- A lack of inventory.
- A seller's market raises prices and makes buyer competition fierce. Houses come onto the market on Thursday and by Monday night sellers have accepted an offer.
- Cash buyers. Who buys a house with cash? People buying in Ipswich, apparently. That was how I lost the first house I bid on … even though I offered more money than the cash buyer!
- My own inexperience – I didn’t think it would take so long, so I wasn’t aggressive enough in the beginning.
There’s nothing I can do about the lack of inventory, but I have done some massive network outreach to friends and acquaintances through Facebook and snail mail. I'm also reaching out directly to homeowners in some cases.
I was forced to get educated FAST! I started doing my own recon on sites like Zillow (which has, in addition to basic listings, alerts on pre-foreclosures). I also developed a homeowner letter, basically a love letter about the house I’m trying to buy as you need to get creative to buy a home in a seller's market.
Advice on How To Buy a Home In a Seller’s Market
If you must buy a home in a seller's market, here's my advice.
- Start earlier than you think you have to.
- If you're shopping in your existing town, network early. Get on people's radar and ask them to spread the word. The best deals happen before a property ever hits the market.
- Choose your realtor wisely. Do your research on performance and testimonials. Check to see which real estate agency has the kinds of listings you want in terms of neighborhood, style, and price range.
- Write up a letter to the seller. You may not always need this, but it's good to have a draft handy, and then all you need to do is tailor it for each house.
- Get pre-approved and get a really good sense of all the financing options out there. Talk to more than one mortgage person. Different banks may offer similar services, but you want to be working with a person who really cares and will go that extra mile.
- >Develop relationships with tradespeople like architects, general contractors, etc. People who can help you assess the house you want to make an offer on, as you won't have much time.
I'm lucky that my beau is knowledgeable and able to accompany me. He's able to offer a second opinion which is especially important as I start feeling more desperate. We also have a friend who is a wonderful architect. He often accompanies us and can quickly assess a situation AND give me some great ideas about how I might change a house.
Time is running out, but I am optimistic I can still buy a home in a seller’s market. If you hear of a lead in Ipswich, please drop me a line!
Did you ever buy a home in a seller's market?
Jamie Wallace is a branding and content marketing professional who helps individuals and companies discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a writer, a prolific blogger, and a student of voice and the equestrian arts (not at the same time). Visit her at www.suddenlymarketing.com or @suddenlyjamie.