Homes are everywhere. With the ease of technology, it’s simpler than ever to find your own. Search engines, websites dedicated to just houses, and apps where you can swipe and find houses. Gone are the days where you need to rely on an agent to find the perfect house.
Or are they?
Really, it depends on the market in your area. Common home search sites are notoriously out of date. Often homes are shown as new listings when they are already under contract. Short sales unintentionally deceive potential buyers in record numbers. In the Hampton Roads area, depending on which city you’re looking in, you could miss out on your perfect home all too easily.
Virginia Beach is a particularly hot market right now. Inventory has been low as sellers are holding on to their homes longer. The amount of new houses in Hampton Roads has decreased steadily over the past 3 years, and the average days on market went from 54 in January of 2014, to 41 in November of 2017 according to Rein.
What does your dream home look like?
Updated kitchens and baths…
By working with a local real estate agent who knows the market, you can save yourself a lot of heartache. All too often I receive an excited phone call about a home that came on the market that is already under contract. If it’s been renovated well and doesn’t have a strange floor plan, then it will not be sitting on the market long.
I’m then left with a buyer who is disappointed with the small remaining inventory. The homes that have been sitting on the market because they back up to a main road, their layout plain sucks, or they are too expensive or too cheap compared to the rest of the neighborhood. However, once you’ve seen the luxury that existed and matched your idea of a dream home, why would you settle for what is left over on the market? The homes that no one else seems to want, either?
So how do you get the home of your dreams?
Start your home search armed and ready. Know the market in your area. Know if inventory is low or not. Familiarize yourself with local agents. Most importantly, speak to a lender before you seriously begin your home search. Your local agent will also undoubtedly be able to point you to a local lender if you do not have one in mind. I’ve had potential clients who refuse to speak to a lender until they find ‘the home of their dreams’. Then they lose out on this same home when there’s a multi-bid situation, and they haven’t even yet spoken to a lender. The other buyers are already pre-approved, have their earnest money in hand, and put in their offer. Most sellers are not going to wait to hear from someone who hasn’t even begun the process of speaking with a lender.
You can build it…
New construction can provide you with what you want, but you’ll need an agent who’s comfortable and knowledgeable about the process. The on-site agent is there to help the builder sell their homes, not to protect the buyer’s interest. Go armed with your own agent who can help ask the correct questions. The prices listed are not necessarily for the same model you’re viewing, and definitely don’t include those upgrade packages. Unless of course the home is already built and listed for a price, then that’s a different story.
Get a customized search sent to your e-mail.
A local real estate agent should be able to set up a personalized search for you. It will pull from the MLS directly, and update as often as you want. So you can have new listings e-mailed the minute they hit the market. The only way to get listings faster than that? To know the top agents in the area personally. A good agent will know the other top producing agents in their area. This means they’ll have an idea of some homes that are about to hit the market, that new and disconnected agents won’t necessarily know about. I’ve seen homes that are under contract the day they hit MLS.
Download an app!
I personally use HomeSnap Pro as an agent and I love it. I, as your agent, can send you homes directly through the app, and you to me. HomeSnap itself is free, and the free version is really all you would need as a client. The best part about this one in my opinion is the ease of finding a home in a particular area. You can easily see everything available in one neighborhood. You can also filter it by bedrooms, baths, price, and when it was put on the market. Just like the MLS on other websites, they will show houses already under contract. Working with an agent like me, you’ll be able to get a response almost instantly whether or not the house is still available. There are other apps to use as well, but this is the one I use more often than any others. I am not affiliated with them, I just really love the ease of use.