(BPT) - The real estate market heats up when the weather does, and spring and summer are traditionally the most active seasons for home sales. This year, industry experts predict that home prices will continue to rise and, with mortgage rates remaining low, the spring and summer real estate season will be competitive for both buyers and sellers.
Buying the right house, especially under pressure, isn't always a sure thing. A quarter of American homeowners who bought the home they're currently in said they would not buy their home again, according to a nationwide survey from Redfin, the customer-first real estate brokerage, and conducted online by Harris Poll among more than 2,000 American adults.
Everyone wants to win in the real estate market, but not all do. Fortunately, some simple steps can help ensure both buyers and sellers achieve the best possible outcomes.
1. Don't go it alone.
In the past 10 years, 89 percent of Americans who bought or sold a home used a real estate agent, according to the Redfin survey. Real estate agents bring value to both sides of a home sale, ensuring that sellers get top dollar and spend less time waiting for their homes to sell, and that buyers get the best home at the best price. To find a good agent, interview several, read online reviews, get recommendations from family and friends and take your time. Look for an agent who makes you feel comfortable. An agent should never pressure buyers to bid on any house, and sellers should never feel pressured to list their home for a price they're not comfortable with.
Historically, real estate agent-client relationships have involved commissions - a scenario that may make some buyers and sellers uncomfortable. Now, there are many other options for people to consider. For instance, Redfin agents earn a base salary and benefits, and receive no commission on home sales. Instead, they receive bonuses based on customer satisfaction.
The Redfin survey indicates there is room for improvement in the agent-client relationship. While 52 percent of homeowners ages 35 to 44 said they loved working with their agent, only 31 percent of poll respondents ages 18 to 34 felt the same way. By contrast, 97 percent of customers who have worked with a Redfin agent said they would recommend the agent and company to others.
2. Know what's going on in your market.
It's a hot market right now. In March, 63 percent of offers written by Redfin agents were competing in multiple offer situations. In order to maximize their chance of success, both buyers and sellers should thoroughly research home prices in their area. Knowing what other homes are selling for will help sellers competitively price their homes, and buyers who do their research will be less likely to overpay. Buyers may also be able to avoid unproductive bidding wars if they're armed with price information and know ahead of time how much they are willing to stretch their budget for any given home.
Most agents, including Redfin agents, will be happy to provide buyers and sellers with a comparative market analysis of home values and prices in their area.
3. Be creative.
Sellers don't want to set prices too low and buyers don't want to pay too much. Creativity can help close the deal for both groups.
Rather than listing a home for a lower price, sellers can enhance their listing's attractiveness in a number of ways, such as offering to help buyers with closing costs or including a home warranty in the sale. Buyers - especially those in multiple offer situations - can make their offers more attractive by getting mortgage pre-approval, waiving contingencies or offering to rent the home back to sellers for a short period of time to help them with their transition.
4. Know when to walk away.
Sometimes a deal just isn't right. Perhaps the other party's agent makes you uncomfortable, a buyer is adamant about a lowball offer or a seller refuses to make necessary repairs. Flash sales, bidding wars, price jumps and inventory crunches can also make you feel uncomfortable.
When a bad scenario occurs, the best course of action may just be to walk away. With 25 percent of current homeowners feeling buyer's remorse over the home they're currently in, it pays to do everything you can to make sure the deal you're considering is right for you.
To learn more about buying and selling homes, or to find a Redfin agent in your area, visit www.redfin.com.