Columbus is currently a competitive real estate market, with investors and all-cash buyers beating out first timers in many bidding wars. According to many real estate agents and mortgage officers, our market is extremely difficult for many buyers, regardless of past purchasing history. Some homes in popular neighborhoods are getting multiple offers especially on hot listings. Many buyers have even put off a home search because of the frustration and competition in the market.
This is why working with a team that works together is so vital! I recently assisted Sarah Albert, a first time home buyer in the Columbus area. Albert wanted to live closer to downtown but high prices were driving her farther outside the metro area. Albert says, "I knew I didn't want to rent, especially not within the Columbus city limits and its current state of rental crisis. Buying a house had been something I had wanted to do for quite some time, but never felt financially stable enough to do it on my own".
Homes closer to downtown are at least $50,000-$75,000 higher than in smaller towns and outlying communities, which is pushing many buyers farther from the city limits.
Albert was eligible for a unique type of financing. There are several options available to first time home buyers and Albert, as a single woman trying to buy on her own, was surprised at the availability of programs. "I met with a homeownership counselor, which was very helpful. They informed me of all the assistance programs I could qualify for. They referred me to a local loan officer, and I am so grateful for their help," accounted Albert.
Albert recalled, "I had done my homework. I did research online and met with 3 different loan officers before finding a loan officer I felt comfortable with".
As her agent I was determined, "with regards to a strategy, after losing out on several houses because we were searching close to our maximum purchase price, we began to look about $30-40K under so we could make stronger than full price offers."
Albert states that although being outbid time and time again was frustrating she says, "I tried to not let it get to me, but I have to admit, at first I got really upset. I would get so excited for each offer, truly picturing myself and my future in the house, so it became a constant let-down." Many home buyers may feel the same. Albert expressed that she felt completely "out of control, especially since some of these offers were cash and were way above mine [offer], even though I was always offering at least $20K over asking price."
After several attempts at offers, Albert agreed to not get so emotionally invested, "as a form of protection". With continued efforts and perseverance, Albert was able to find a house. There are things a buyer can do in this market that can help, such as write a strong buyer letter, shortening timelines and writing clean offers. At the end of the day, it's usually the strongest offer that wins.
This is just what Sarah Albert did. In Sarah's case, she had presented the exact same offer as another buyer, but got the house because the seller was inspired by her buyer letter.
Albert strongly suggests others do the same. "Write a personal letter. That's what got me the house. After I had closed on the home, I was able to meet the seller and his wife. They honestly told me that it was my letter that made their decision. My offer was just as strong as the others, but I wrote an honest and sincere letter. I spoke from the heart about why I wanted this house and I got to where I am today. I made a connection with the sellers. In this tough market, there has to be something that can set you apart from other buyers. In my case, I knew it wasn't going to be money, but I had a unique story and perspective on life. Sharing that journey brought me into another one."
Albert also suggests buyers stay positive. "When it's right for you, it will happen. It can be very hard going through all the ups and down, but I just knew I would find something."
Albert said, "I will never forget the day we went to see that condo I really liked and you were pushing me to go see the house. I honestly walked through it thinking, 'sure, this is great, but I won't get my offer accepted' .... boy, I was wrong."
"Although there were multiple offers, mine was accepted, and there was little negotiating that took place. The seller and his Realtor® were amazing throughout the entire process. Everyone on my team helped me through a seamless and smooth experience, " Said Albert.
When the listing agent, buyer's agent and lender all work closely together for the same goal, the outcome is amazing. Make sure the next time you buy, your team is all on board to make it happen.
As a certified Realtor® for the top-rated Columbus Realty Firm - Vision Realty, with 32 years of dedicated real estate experience, I can help buyers, sellers, investors, short sale sellers and more find, sell or invest in the right property, at the right price, at the right time. Contact me anytime for updates and information on the Columbus OH Real Estate market.