How to snatch up your dream home in a hot market

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Unless you’ve slept through the last couple of years, you probably know that the housing market has heated up. Purchasing a home in a competitive real estate market can seem intimidating, but with patience and some smart strategies, you can succeed.

It can mean touring more homes than usual, putting in multiple offers, and making concessions that you might not undertake if the market were softer.

That doesn’t mean, however, that finding your dream home and getting a good deal can’t be done. Here’s how home shoppers can navigate a hot market and snag a great place to live.

What Exactly Is a Hot Market?

To put it in its simplest terms, a “hot market” is one when real estate inventory is low and demand is high, meaning many other buyers are looking to purchase a home as well.

It can often mean that homes enter the market and stay only briefly before selling at or above asking price. In general, if homes remain for sale for four to six months, it’s a balanced market of buyers and sellers.

However, if homes are selling faster than that, say in mere days or weeks, it’s typically considered a hot — or seller’s — market. If homes are sitting for longer than that, it’s regarded as a buyer’s market.

A hot market may sound tough to enter, but there are a few ways buyers can stand out from the pack and, with luck, win over a seller.

Hot House Market Buying Tips

1. Hiring a Non-Tepid Agent

Hot market or not, a great agent can make all the difference in the homebuying process. An agent can help a buyer navigate choppy waters and will be the person buyers can turn to with questions about the market, the homes they are looking at, and much more.

A buyer’s agent is legally bound to help the buyer. A good agent will know what to look for in a home, may be able to recommend new neighborhoods buyers haven’t thought of, and can steer shoppers to good deals and away from bad ones.

2. Listing Musts and Wants

In a hot market, buyers may need to be more flexible about their ideal home and location. Before looking at homes, it might be wise to create a list of “must-haves” vs. “nice to have” items on your home-buying wish list.

If buyers know they can’t live without at least two bedrooms and two bathrooms, they should put that on their “must have” list. If they would like to have an in-home office but don’t need it, they can add that to the “nice to have” list.

It will probably help buyers to go through every item — garage, square footage, yard space, fireplace, schools — and draw their line in the sand. If a home doesn’t have everything on their “must” list, they can move on quickly. But if a property meets all the “musts,” perhaps it can have the “nice to have” items later via renovations.

3. Adding Sweeteners to an Offer

In a hot market, adding a few perks to a home offer can further tempt the seller because every little bit helps when there is the potential for multiple offers.

For example, sellers eager to move on could be enticed to go with buyers who can act quickly. To offer a quick close, buyers can ask their real estate agent to find out the standard closing time for the home and add to their offer that they are willing to close faster.

4. Offering All Cash

This most certainly isn’t an option for everyone, but if a buyer can offer all cash for a home, this may be the thing that tips the odds in their favor of winning a bid.

Sellers typically prefer all-cash offers because they present fewer hurdles than buyers who are going with a lender.

“Cash is king,” maybe you’ve heard. With a cash offer, there is no waiting for pre-approvals or approvals.

5. Waiving Contingencies

Looking to stand out further? Buyers could try waiving contingencies where they can.

There are lower risk contingencies people can waive, such as homeowner association contingencies, but there are also higher risk ones for buyers that could convince a seller to choose their offer.

For example, buyers can waive their right to an inspection. This means they will not require a professional inspector to check over the home for potential repairs. By waiving this contingency, though, buyers will be purchasing a home with many unknowns and taking on the full risk of a property that may need hidden and pricey home repairs.

Before waiving any contingency, it’s a good idea for buyers to have a long talk with their agent to ensure they are still protecting their rights and feel comfortable with any consequences.

(Learn more at Home Affordability Calculator)

6. Giving It a ‘Best and Final’ Offer

In a hot market, odds are buyers won’t win any bids that are under asking price. If the house is right when it comes time for the best and final offer, buyers may want to consider trying to give it their all. That would mean coming in at asking price and often going over.

This is an important consideration when looking at homes in a hot market. Buyers may want to look at homes under their very top budget so they have room to negotiate up to, or over, asking.

Again, like contingencies, buyers should never go into a price range they are uncomfortable with or cannot afford in the long run. 

7. Writing an Epic Letter

There is one more way to try to win a seller over (perhaps in a bidding war): by pulling on their heartstrings.

When putting in an offer, many real estate agents advise their clients to write a short letter to the seller on why they want to purchase the home.

Remember, selling a home can be emotional, and letting go of all the memories built in the space can be hard on the seller. But if they know that the next person to live in the home will love it as much as they do, they may be more willing to part with the property.

Buyers might want to express what they love about the home and how they plan to continue making happy memories there. As a bonus, buyers can try including a picture of their family with the letter so the seller thinks of them as people rather than just an offer.

8. Not Getting Discouraged

In a hot market, it’s important to stay patient. Going through the process could mean putting in multiple offers on multiple properties and losing out more than once.

Having Your Finances in Order

Before putting in an offer on a home in a hot market, it’s a good idea for buyers to have all their fiscal ducks in a row. That could mean shopping for the lender that’s right for them and/or getting a preapproval letter to show they are serious buyers.

Different lenders will likely offer different rates, terms, and perks, which buyers can weigh to decide which mortgage lender is right for them.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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Do you make more than the average American at your age?

Do you make more than the average American at your age?

Your education, industry, work experience, negotiation skills, and plain luck can all influence how much money you make. To get an idea of whether you’re earning a competitive salary, it can be helpful to know how much other people in the same age group are making.

Let’s take a closer look at the average income by age in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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The early days of your working life usually aren’t the most lucrative: 16 to 19 year olds who work full-time make $32,396 a year on average.

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Salaries start to rise as workers gain experience. Those in the 20 to 24 age group make an average annual salary of $38,324.

This is when many financially savvy professionals start building their 401(k) balance. That’s because the earlier you invest for retirement, the less money you’ll typically have to invest over time. Or, as the saying goes, your time in the market is more important than marketing timing.

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We start to see a big increase in salary once workers reach the 25 to 34 age group, with the average annual income hitting $52,832.

Ideally, employees will put much of their raises and bonuses toward savings rather than impulse spending.

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For 35 to 44 year olds, their annual salary is still growing: $62,608 on average. This is the beginning of what’s commonly referred to as “peak earning years.”

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While many employees enjoy higher wages into their 50s, others find their salary stagnating. Overall, workers in the 45 to 54 age group actually see salaries drop a little, though only by $208. The average annual income in middle age is $62,400.

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Salaries really drop for workers between 55 and 64, whose average annual salary is $61,204. What happened to paying for experience? Some companies may believe they can pay younger employees less for the same work, and see older workers as overpaid. As a result, 55+ workers are no longer offered the same retention incentives — such as pay raises — regardless of performance.

On the other hand, professionals who are satisfied with their retirement savings may choose to work less or retire early instead of waiting until the average retirement age.

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Once workers reach 65, they are likely shifting to part-time work to stay active during retirement and to earn a little extra retirement income. Some people need more retirement income than others, and Social Security benefits and savings aren’t always enough. Which may be why we see salaries drop to an average of $54,444 per year for those 65 or older.

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Now that we’ve shed some light on the average income by age in the U.S., let’s address some ways workers can maximize their salary. That can mean finding ways to hold on to what you’re earning or to make it grow.

Create a Budget

If you’ve ever created a spending budget, you know how shocking it can be to see all the ways we fritter away our hard-earned salary on unnecessary purchases. By cutting back on items you don’t really need — from bottled water to forgotten subscriptions — you’ll free up more cash for things like saving and investing.

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What’s even more shocking than the amount you spend on little things like daily snacks and late-night Ubers? The interest charges and fees that come with debt. The faster you pay off high-interest credit cards, the more you can put toward longer term goals: an emergency fund, travel, or buying a home.

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One easy way to make saving and investing a priority is to automate it: Set up regular, recurring transfers from your paycheck or checking account. That way, big goals like a dream wedding and retirement are prioritized before there’s even a chance to spend that money.

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Taxes may be an unavoidable part of life, but there are ways to pay less to Uncle Sam. Whether you hire a tax accountant or use software to file your return, look for opportunities to snag a larger tax refund.

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One way to make savings grow is to open a brokerage account and invest money in the stock market. Start small while you learn the ropes. While investing comes with risk (and more taxes), it’s a means of making your money work for you.

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Contributing to a retirement savings account is a convenient way to save and invest in one fell swoop. As an added benefit, some employers match a portion of employee contributions. That means if someone isn’t contributing to their employer sponsored 401(k) plan, they’re leaving free money on the table. that helps expand an employee’s net worth.

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A low-risk way to earn money on savings is by opening a high-yield savings account. This type of savings account tends to offer a higher interest rate than normal savings accounts.

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The average income by age in the U.S. tends to rise as workers gain more experience. Eventually salaries plateau and then drop off. Your peak earning years coincide with middle age, meaning you make the most you ever will in your 40s and 50s. The average salary in the U.S. tops out at $62,608 for ages 35-44.

This article originally appeared on Sofi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

Please understand that this information provided is general in nature and shouldn’t be construed as a recommendation or solicitation of any products offered by SoFi’s affiliates and subsidiaries. In addition, this information is by no means meant to provide investment or financial advice, nor is it intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision or recommendation to buy or sell any asset. Keep in mind that investing involves risk, and past performance of an asset never guarantees future results or returns. It’s important for investors to consider their specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile before making an investment decision.

The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. These links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement. No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this content.
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