We know house hunting can be tough these days—with a recent check of listings showing only about 8 single-family homes currently available in Eagle Rock and approximately 31 in Highland Park, the pickings are slim and competition for the gems often feels like we are preparing for war.
But before you say it can’t be done and resign yourself to sticking it out another year in your current home, a few insider strategies the pros use when purchasing their own home, courtesy of local Realtor Elise Knepper of The Property Shop LA.
- Know what you want, and more importantly, what you can expect. We longtime agents have seen thousands of homes in the neighborhood over the years, so our wishlist when shopping for our own place is pretty finely honed and realistic. We know that flat yards with a pool in Mt. Washington, or 2,500 sq. ft. in Echo Park, come around once in a blue moon, so when we find that, we have the luxury of experience to tell us to pull the trigger. The average homebuyer tends to pass on some rare opportunities just because they don’t know they are rare. Get familiar with the inventory in your price range so you can quickly tell the exceptional homes from the run-of-the-mill, and know when to jump on something.
- Shop below your budget. Sad, but true—Realtors do not have a secret stash of available homes from which to choose, and make offers just as you do. But my bet is that we write far fewer offers because we know how important it is to be aggressive once we’ve found The One. Leaving yourself plenty of room to compete means not shopping right at the top of your financial comfort zone, because that home listed at 650K is often 700K.
- Recognize that all homes have flaws, no matter the price. When we are house hunting for ourselves, we assess the big picture: architectural style, price, potential, and of course, location. Those things can’t be changed. It is almost a certainty that the home you love is going to have physical defects, and so long as they are fixable for a reasonable amount, we know that is all part of the process. I once had a client who canceled escrow on her dream Craftsman home because the central air needed upgrading. After six more months of dejected searching, she reluctantly settled for another home that came with dual-zone a/c…and a 70K foundation bill.
- When you want it, go for it with gusto. I often advise my clients to write heartfelt letters to the owner of a home, attach pictures of themselves, and accommodate the seller’s needs in any way possible…all good tips, and often effective in setting you apart from other hopeful buyers. But the cold, hard truth is that it often boils down to price, plain and simple. If you find your perfect ‘10’, offer the absolute top you are comfortable with, what the home is worth to you, and rest easy. Too often, buyers plan to offer a low number and “come up later”, because that is how we are trained to negotiate. In reality (or at least Eastside-real estate-reality), you may not get the chance to do better. I represented a seller on a competitive home in Los Feliz who chose to simply accept the highest offer on the first round, and we are seeing this more and more often. Being strong out of the gate will increase your chances of getting those keys.
We’d love to answer your home buying and selling questions, and help you succeed in today’s hot market. Visit us at www.ThePropertyShopLA.com, and check out our latest picks on the Eastside!
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