In today’s highly competitive real estate market in Richmond, house hunting can seem like a combat sport. With multiple offer scenarios now the norm and homes consistently selling for well above their asking prices, it’s easy to get caught up in the madness — which can quickly lead to costly house-hunting mistakes.
You may have to be quite nimble to find your dream house in the current market, but the usual rules for house hunting success still apply. Getting your finances straight, narrowing your search, and assembling a strong team are all important steps you need to take before starting your house hunting adventure. Here are our top 5 tips for house hunting success in Richmond.
Get your budget straight.
House hunting without a clear budget is a big waste of everyone’s time. That’s why it’s important to speak with lenders and find out exactly how much house you can afford before you start house hunting. And now more than ever, we recommend having a preapproval letter from your lender to include with offers to show without question that you are a qualified buyer.
Narrow down your search.
Despite the current situation, there’s still plenty of inventory out there for homebuyers, and you’ll need to take the time to narrow your search. Start with the basics:
- Neighborhood — What area of Richmond would you like to live in? What are some amenities you’d love to have in your chosen area? Whether it’s schools, walkability, parks, shopping, or acreage, take these factors into account when narrowing down your search.
- Size and Layout — How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? Is there a specific layout you prefer?
- Outdoor Space — If a yard is important to you, how big do you need it to be? Are outdoor living spaces like porches and patios important to you?
- Age of Home — Are you looking for something brand new, or do you prefer historical homes? Do you want something renovated or are you comfortable putting some work into the house?
- Value Growth — How important is the home’s investment potential to you?
Start by browsing online.
Get started by searching local listings on aggregate real estate sites like Zillow. Just be aware that listings on these sites are often out of date, and this is only a starting point before working with a qualified agent. “Zillow can only get you so far,” warns our buyer’s agent Sam Marks. “Without having an agent, you lose out on their access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). That MLS access your real estate agent holds allows you access to properties before they hit Zillow. Another reason that it is crucial to work with an agent, especially in this quick selling market!” While you’re browsing, be sure to save a few of your favorite listings to give your agent an example of properties that interest you.
Connect with your agent and start viewing homes.
This is when house hunting gets really real — and having an experienced agent on your team is an absolute must. They’ll help you pinpoint properties, get you scheduled for those sometimes competitive viewings, and guide you through the process of deciding whether or not it’s the right home for you. “A real estate professional will be able to help you find properties as soon as they hit the market, and in some cases before they go live to the general public,” Sam says. “In this low inventory, competitively-driven market environment, it’s crucial you have someone in your corner to help you write a strong and fair offer that will get you in the home you want.”
Keep your eyes open.
You’re likely to look at quite a few homes before you find “the one.” According to research from The National Association of Realtors, the average buyer tours 10 homes in 10 weeks before making a purchase. Throughout this time, it’s important to stay calm, keep your goals in mind, and keep an open mind. Your agent should help you do this. “Focus on three things: price, condition, and location,” Sam says. “These are the golden rules of real estate purchasing, and are the main characteristics to focus on.” A few other tips for viewing properties:
- Don’t be distracted by easily fixable cosmetic flaws. At the same time, don’t allow good staging to distract you from potentially serious issues.
- Always ask about the condition of important structural details like the roof, foundation, plumbing, and HVAC system. But recognize that these will be covered during any inspections.
- Think about your future goals and lifestyle as well as your current needs.
- Don’t forget your checklist of must-haves and remain firm with the factors that matter most.
House hunting in Richmond can be a fun, fulfilling undertaking as long as you are properly prepared. Reach out to our experienced team at Ruckart Real Estate today to start your home search.