Can You Compete in 2013?

Real estate buyer need smartphone

Image: Crunchbase


Your wake up call may have come if you read a recent article in The Washington Post about a house in D.C. that had 168 offers on it. Okay, it was listed at a very nice price (it was a foreclosure, rare in D.C.) and had a textbook bidding-war that bumped up the price $360,951 over the asking price. Crazy! But you should know that multiple offers in the Northern Virginia have become standard for me in 2012. Really, I would like to talk to anyone who hasn’t experienced that because you are doing something wrong, terribly wrong.

The Post article cited many credible sources who discussed the real estate market as super hot in many D.C. markets due to a growing population, low inventory and super low mortgage rates.

Okay, you’ve read all that before.

My recommendations for any real estate buyer:

  • Come ready to make quick decisions.

  • Be ready to compete.

You might be already there having gotten pre-approved for a loan, done research on Zillow, researched the best schools, paid down your credit cards, and are non-contingent. You might already have a “Dear Seller” letter describing your desire to live in Little Beaver Hills Estates. And you may also have three Apps on your iPhone sending you alerts. You might have three “nice agents” emailing you the same stuff.

What I learned in 2012 from behavior from real estate agents is that there are a lot out there putting together uncompetitive offers, incomplete paperwork, submitting ancient “pre-approval” letters, and spinning their client’s wheels. I don’t know about you, but I consider your time valuable!

2012 also exposed cracks in the online research sites that are out there for consumers. For example, you shouldn’t trust the county tax records for finished square footage. YouTube home repair videos may not address your specific home inspection repair. School rating sites won’t reflect that a school is now over crowded or about to begin a three year renovation.

And for that custom “spec home” that’s for sale online, understand that custom builders don’t all have the same level of finish-work such as trim-work, molding, doors, hardware etc. There is simply more to it!

“Is this what I should expect for $750,000?”

This is going to be hard to understand until you have experienced house hunting in Northern Virginia, but prepare to lower your expectations.

Sorry, that’s not low enough.

HGTV Property Brother

Property Brother 2 (Flickr credit: theharv58)

Maybe I watch too much HGTV (research you know), but it can seem like you are in an episode of Property Brothers where the kitchens are from 1970’s, the bathrooms are pink tile and essentially the whole house needs $150k just to be livable. As much as I laugh at that show, clients always ask me how much would a new bathroom cost, or a kitchen renovation, or to replace windows, or to put on an addition. Luckily I know good contractors to suggest consulting with even after the sale.

Vienna Virginia HGTV Real Estate buyer

Click to play video

My buyer agent tip: Set your expectations LOW!

If you take a minute and notice the attitude of these buyers going into this HGTV staged deal… essentially, they will need to spend money immediately upon buying their home to make it livable. They are looking for the “potential”, and that is what the average Northern Virginia home buyer needs to do too. Hey, if you see attractive upgrades then that’s a value-added bonus.

With my real estate agent hat on here, I must say the show Property Brothers is probably the first authentic show I’ve watched on HGTV because they talk about budgets, show expensive problems discovered during renovations, and show buyers making compromises. Yes, making compromises like when the kitchen sub-floor needs replacement before the new kitchen can be installed and suddenly the entire budget is out of whack. That’s stuff that I have gone through renovating my own house in Vienna Virginia.

Yes, there are turn-key properties for sale out there. If you find one and buy it then you are lucky because there are so few out there.

So, expect to make decisions quickly in 2013 especially if you want to be a competitive home buyer, and understand that your purchase will need updating immediately. With that mindset then you will have a fantastic experience and easily see returns of 120% on the investments you’ll make.

To see what I mean, take a tour now to see what is available right now for sale in the Vienna real estate market and check out the photos.


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