If you’ve been looking to buy a house in 2020, you may already know how difficult it’s been to navigate a changing landscape affected and altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the pre-existing low housing inventory that predated the virus.
However, after a spring season handcuffed by the nationwide emergence of the coronavirus, many indicators show the housing market bouncing back. Realtor.com, in its recent Housing Market Recovery Index update, issued a 105.6 recovery rating for the week ending on August 8. It’s a mark that registered 5.6 points higher than the baseline established before the emergence of COVID-19.
The virus has also caused many to re-examine their living space, said CENTURY 21 President and CEO Mike Miedler. The coronavirus has changed the way many people live and might affect where they live as well.
“It’s now where you’re schooling your kids and working from. And it’s now your home gym — it’s everything to you,” Meidler told Fortune.
With that increased demand for other options, coupled with 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgage rates hitting record lows during both the first two weeks of August, many are expecting a rush into the market that is already underway.
But with low housing inventory remaining an issue — Realtor.com estimated housing inventory has dropped 29 percent from a year ago at this time — getting the house you want means finding ways to edge out other prospective buyers. And the clock is ticking, too.
In North Central Ohio — Erie, Huron, Ottawa, Sandusky, and Seneca counties — the average number of days on market for a CENTURY 21 Bolte Real Estate listing was only four days, and our average list/sale price ratio was 97.5%. This means that nearly all of our listings sold quickly and at or very close to the listing price.
What to Do When Facing Low Housing Inventory
It can be daunting when wading through a competitive buying market at a time when you’re eager to move to a new property. But there are ways to prepare that will give you flexibility and adaptability when you finally find a housing target.
Secure Financing at the Start
First, it’s important to get your financing fully prepared upfront. For home buyers, you’ve probably already heard that you should pre-qualify or be pre-approved for a mortgage. The terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are important differences every homebuyer should understand.
Pre-qualifying is the first step. When you prequalify for a home loan you are getting an estimate on what you might be able to borrow based on the information you provide about your finances.
But pre-approval is as close as you can get to confirming your creditworthiness without having a contract in place. You will complete a mortgage application and the lender will verify the information. If you’re preapproved, you’ll receive a preapproval letter which is an offer to lend you a specific amount that is good for 90 days.
Preapproval can be valuable when it comes time to make an offer on a house, particularly in competitive markets with low housing inventory. It will allow you to stand out among other buyers, and the seller will more likely consider your offer because your finances have been verified. Sellers will know you’re a serious buyer and will give your offer more distinction.
Get Listing Alerts
With competition high, you’ll want to have the latest information available when new listings hit the market, or when current listings are updated. Searching on your own can take a lot of time, but many agents now offer property listing services that can be delivered right to any of your devices at any time of day and as often as you need.
CENTURY 21 Bolte Real Estate can take care of the hassle of checking for new listings across North Central Ohio. With CENTURY 21 Bolte Real Estate’s email listing alerts, you can get fast, free and easy updates about your preferred property searches. You won’t waste time re-entering the same details over and over, you can get the updates as often as you like, and you’ll be among the first to know when a new property becomes available.
Developing a relationship with a trusted local agent is another way to help your search during these times of low housing inventory. Having a local agent who knows your market will help you save both time and money.
With a locally-based agent, you’ll have an advocate who can help negotiate when a bidding war breaks out. You’ll want someone familiar with the area who can tell you the second a home that fits your chosen criteria hits the market. A local agent will give you access to pounce on new listings and schedule tours quickly.
It’s a personal and detailed touch that you can’t find with an online service or a national-in-scope brokerage. In North Central Ohio, CENTURY 21 Bolte Real Estate is vested heavily in the area. Established in 1936, we have developed a vast network of local resources and contacts to help serve our clients.
By securing your financing upfront, developing connections in your desired market with a trusted agent, and plugging in with direct listing alerts, buyers will be prepared to move quickly when the time arises.
Due to the low housing inventory in North Central Ohio and across the country, buyers will also need to trust that preparation and act decisively. Listings are currently going under contract soon after they’re released, and swift decisions are needed when making an offer on a house that prospective buyers are interested in.
We’re Here to Help
CENTURY 21 Bolte Real Estate is well equipped to assist you now, despite the challenges of the current environment. We have been buying and selling homes across North Central Ohio for more than 80 years and are the largest brokerage in the region.
Our team of experienced agents live and work here, and we’ll be by your side every step of the way to ensure you’re completely satisfied with your buying or selling experience. Contact us today to help you reach your real estate goals.