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How to's and money-saving tips from resident homeowner and mortgage professional, Cathy West

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Finding the right property

Finding the right property

When first-time buyers are starting the process of searching for the right home to bid on, they may not know exactly what they're looking for. However, experts in the real estate industry typically note that this is one of those things shoppers just "know" when the moment is right and they visit a home for the first time.

Certainly, shopping online or in person with an agent for houses that carry many of the features they're looking for – whether it's a spacious back yard, the right number of bathrooms or bedrooms, modern amenities, etc. – will help buyers whittle down the number of open houses they need to attend, but they usually won't know a home is just right for them until they visit it themselves, according to The Balance. One of the best indicators of this "something special" quality is when shoppers quickly start to envision themselves in the home and feel great about those images.

All about excitement
Indeed, when people get enthusiastic about a home, even if it's just the first one they've visited, it might be wise to consider placing a bid sooner than later, the report said. If they can see themselves repainting the various rooms to their favorite colors, arranging furniture in the living room just so, or simply feel "at home" in it, getting involved in the bidding process is vital in today's hyper-competitive market. 

However, there are more things to consider than that first feeling, especially for people who plan to stay in their homes for some time to come, according to Home Finder. For instance, if young married couples without children are planning to have kids in the near future, it might be wise to consider whether the house that feels right for two people will be big enough to comfortably fit three or more. Moreover, it's important for buyers to think about the location of the home in proximity to their offices, various attractions or supermarkets and other stores. While a 40-minute commute or 20-minute drive to the grocery store, for instance, may not sound like much now, it's vital to think about what that will feel like almost every day for years.

Even if a home meets all current needs, or potential concerns can be brushed aside initially, it might be important for shoppers to take a more holistic look at their situations, the report said.

Missteps to avoid
Meanwhile, consumers also need to make sure they don't get wowed by homes they might not be able to afford, while also being realistic about being able to find something that's going to be absolutely perfect at the exact price they're able to pay, according to Investopedia. Again, this is a competitive market for buyers – homes typically receive multiple bids – so while it's not necessarily wise to "settle" it's still vital to be pragmatic about what's going to be available.

Typically, working closely with a real estate agent will help would-be buyers come to the right decision about the homes available to them, and find a property that reasonably balances their wants with their needs.

For more information about this article, call 866-614-5959.

Navigating a bidding war

Navigating a bidding war

Anyone who has been thinking of getting into the housing market in the past several months probably knows full well how much competition there is from other would-be buyers. To that end, it's probably wise for shoppers to at least approach a potential purchase with the idea that they're likely to face some sort of bidding war. If they don't end up having to outbid someone else, that's great, but if they do, there are certainly some things to keep in mind.

Perhaps the smartest move any potential buyer can make when they try to get into the housing market is to work with a realtor or other type of real estate pros who can advise them adequately, according to U.S. News and World Report. Typically, these professionals have been through countless bidding wars in the past – and certainly that number would have been on the rise in recent months – and can help prepare clients for any potential issues they might encounter, and better understand how to deal with them.

Where to begin
Generally speaking, real estate agents will be able to advise clients that bidding wars are likely before they even happen, and that may allow them to start the bidding process with a strong offer that's more likely to be accepted, the report said. Moreover, other aspects of the bidding process can be streamlined so that sellers are more likely to accept a bid.

This can include ensuring all paperwork and associated data is ready to go and clearly organized and, more important, that they have preapproval on the mortgage, the report said. Having to wait even a little while could lead sellers to look elsewhere.

Other things to keep in mind
It's also possible to build what is known as an "escalation clause" into a bid, meaning that if there are other bidders, sellers would be authorized to simply bump up the number without having to check with the buyer, up to a certain amount, according to Florida real estate expert Ron Goldstein. That kind of flexibility could really pay off, especially if other contingencies are kept at a minimum. It's important to remember that sellers are people, too, and they're likely just as anxious to get a home sale closed quickly, so working with them a little more cooperatively could go a long way.

Some experts even recommend that hopeful homeowners should write a "love letter" to sellers, explaining just what moving into a home would mean for them, according to the New York Post. While this obviously has no financial impact on a sale, it may give particularly articulate shoppers an edge when it comes to humanizing their desire to own a home.

With all this in mind, a little research online about the state of the local market and what more can be done to boost a bid's likelihood of being accepted can go a long way toward ensuring buyers can get through the process as quickly – and smoothly – as possible.

For more information about this article, call 866-614-5959.