When you finally fall in love with a home, there are more things to consider as you work towards securing the deal than just financial implications.
How Homebuyers Can Leave a Positive Impression on a Seller
In a competitive housing market teeming with smart, savvy homebuyers, your ability to stand out from the crowd in the eyes of a seller fielding multiple offers can be the difference between turning the key on your dream home and returning to the property hunt empty-handed.
Of course, making a meaningful impression on a seller without undermining your own preferences or financial position can be a delicate balance. Here are a few tips to help you strike that balance in your favor.
1. Make it personal
Why it helps: Purchasing a home is, on the surface, a business transaction. At the end of the day, however, the sellers are human — and many would prefer to know the home they’ve dedicated themselves to will go to someone who will similarly care for and appreciate it.
How to do it: You won’t always get to meet with the sellers during an open house, so consider writing a letter to the sellers. Be heartfelt and sincere. Let the current owners know why you’ve fallen in love their home. Open up about your hopes and aspirations for your future in it. If you plan on raising a family there, tell them. If you can't live without the library they added a couple years ago, let them know. Establishing a real connection can help a seller feel good about entrusting their home to you as they move onto the next phase of their lives.
2. Be prepared to go above and beyond
Why it helps: Assuming that most of the other people interested in the house will be as prepared as you are to put in an offer, it never hurts to consider what amount of money might put you ahead of the curve — especially if your heart is set on this particular future home.
How to do it: If you’re in a competitive market, it’s not likely that you’ll be able to put in an offer that’s lower than the asking price and actually win the bid. Instead, in most cases, it helps to go in with the knowledge that an exact match of the asking price or even relatively small financial shows of faith like offering to foot the bill for an inspection can make a big difference in how your offer is received.
3. Have a stellar realtor
Why it helps: Don’t underestimate the value and power of retaining the services of a well-respected realtor who can leverage her local contacts and experience for you through every step of the homebuying process.
How to do it: Ask friends and family for recommendations, but also do your own research online. Interview more than one realtor before starting down the house-hunting road. Ask plenty of questions: Can they provide references? What is their record of success on closings? How many similar houses have they helped clients buy in the area, and what was their strategy for getting the best possible house and the best possible price?
4. Find a reliable lender
Why it helps: When it comes to purchasing a house, having a reliable lender proves that you've done your research and are serious about your intentions. A good lender will also have already completed the paperwork that establishes the important fact that you have the financial backing and degree of responsibility required for this undertaking.
How to do it: The approach to finding a reliable lender will essentially mirror the one you used to seek out that stellar relator — ask for recommendations, do your own research, interview prospective lenders about their track record and strategy. Your realtor can likely advise you on the pros and cons of potential lenders as well.
5. Always be available
Why it helps: Sellers aren’t interested in wasting time with on-the-fence potential buyers, no matter how stellar their offer might seem. It’s a lot of effort to sell a house. Demonstrating that you understand and respect the seller’s time and efforts could potentially boost your favorability as a buyer.
How to do it: Consider the homebuying process your full-time job, at least for the (hopefully) short time period it takes place. Try to be available at multiple times during the day for meetings, phone calls and emails. When you absolutely cannot be on hand, make your best effort to respond back as promptly as possible.
6. Show your interest
Why it helps: It might seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating — sellers want to know if you’re interested in buying their home before you walk out the door at the open house or showing. Be sure to prepare thoughtful questions that show you’ve taken the time to research the area and are knowledgeable about the process, as this can be an important signal to sellers and their agents.
How to do it: Again, a good realtor should be able to walk you through the basic considerations of a given property before you attend an open house. You can also ask friends and family who have recently made home purchases what types of questions they asked — or, in retrospect, wish they’d asked. If your interest level is high, it doesn’t hurt to let the seller’s agent know as you take your leave that they can expect to hear from you with an offer or a request for certain clarifications within 24 hours.
When you finally fall in love with a home, there are more things to consider as you work towards securing the deal than just financial implications. If forging a relationship with the seller and letting your devotion for the property shine through — to whatever extent possible — is the leg up that puts you in the house of your dreams, any effort you expend toward that end will ultimately be well worth it on move-in day.