While mortgage rates have come down from their recent high of over 7 percent, they remain nearly double their 2021 lows, making home buying a struggle for many.
Ann Briscoe, a real estate agent for Houlihan Lawrence based in Westchester county, New York, told Cheddar News that it's still a "seller's market" as a shortage of supply persists.
"Inventory is at an all-time low, and there are more buyers than sellers," she said. "So homes that are on the market are in high demand."
This also means that whenever a home does go up for sale, there is almost immediately a line of buyers ready to bid. Briscoe noted that this situation allows sellers to be "a little bit more picky or say, 'I want to raise the price a little bit.'"
At the same time, overall higher mortgage rates have led some prospective buyers to wait. For those trying to decide when to jump back in, Briscoe offered some tips:
- Get in contact with a reputable loan officer
- Cut back on so-called "non-negotiables" such as a two-car garage or open concept layout, which are experiencing very low inventory
- Search for homes comfortably within your range, so there's room to negotiate
"If you're looking at something out of your budget, you're only teasing yourself," she explained.
Real estate agent Rose Bulfamante added that buyers should be prepared to put an offer in quickly when they find a home that meets their needs. That could mean checking out a neighborhood before going to view a home.
It is also important for buyers to listen to the professionals, she said. Inspections are important, especially when buying a single-family home, and even if the home seems perfect, pay close attention to what the inspector notes on their report. There could be unseen health and safety issues that need to be addressed.
As spring approaches, more homes typically go to market. Realtors are there to help potential buyers determine how to make a competitive offer. Meanwhile, sellers can prepare for the busy season by putting the finishing touches on their homes: declutter, stick to neutral colors when showing your home, and keep the decor simple so buyers don't get distracted.
Updated February 6, 2023 at 5:24 p.m. ET to correct the spelling of Ann Briscoe's name.