How To Buy A House In A Seller’s Market [like Oakland]

Yes, it’s a seller’s market. But whether you’re going to succeed or fail depends on the mentality that you’re bringing to the home buying experience. If you don’t get that sorted out, you’re just not going to succeed. So today, let’s talk about what you can do to WIN!

To be honest, I’m a little upset to be bringing you this message but I feel like it’s really necessary right now. Recently, I’ve been seeing so much negativity on Reddit, on Instagram, and on YouTube, about the housing market. There are so many threads that keep going on and on about how it’s a seller’s market, that it’s impossible to win, and that buying a house now is only for rich people. What I can tell you is that mindset is what’s going to destroy you. If you hold this mindset, you might as well not try now because you’re probably not going to win.

So, what can you do if you WANT to win? In my experience, the people who succeed in this seller’s market, whether they have cash or a conventionally-financed loan, are the ones who have a good mindset. These are the people who 1) know what they want, 2) who put a really good team together, and ultimately, 3) educate themselves on how they CAN win. Let’s go over those three things real quick.

1. Know what you really want.

Admittedly, there are certain houses that are just amazing and are going to attract a ton of buyer interest. For sure, there will be people who are willing and able to “overpay” for those homes — that is the reality of this market. Additionally, since there is low supply, high demand, and debt is cheap, the competition can be compounded. But set all those aside for now and let’s talk about YOU and what matters to YOU first.

If you want to win, the very first thing you need to do is to identify what you really want. I’m not talking about a neighborhood in a three bedroom, two bath, 1,500 square foot bungalow, I’m talking about WHY you want it. You got to feel it in there. You have got to think how you want to feel in this house! How do I want to live in it? What kind of lifestyle am I trying to have here?

Pause here and get a pen and a piece of paper.

Before we talk about anything else, let’s get clear on those things first. Stop for a second and write down THREE lifestyle things that you want in the home that you’re searching for. For example, is it a work from home experience that you can close your door of your office and shut out distractions? Do you need to have multiple bedrooms so that your kids can have their own space? Or do you just want to have a large yard for your pets?

Think about those experiences you want to have and how you want them to make you feel. Because only when those are already very clear is when the time that you can really prepare for the next step—planning the “How do I get there” step.

2. Know your listing agent.

Let’s think about this for a second: a seller wants to sell a house so they hire a listing agent. What then does the listing agent want other than to sell the house? They want the seller to be super happy so that that seller will refer them to all of their friends, give them a five star review online, and tell everyone how great everything was so that they can get more referral business and look like a rock star, right?

What does that have to do with you? Well, that listing agent is the gatekeeper to your success. As a potential buyer, you have to influence that gatekeeper to give the seller their stamp of approval on your offer. By getting their approval, it will mean that your offer now has a much higher chance of being accepted.

Now, remember this: listing agents are humans. And all humans have biases and tendencies. There are certain lenders that listing agents like and don’t like. There are certain types of financing offers that they like and don’t like. And they have certain bugaboos in how offers are written or countered. This means that it’s really critical to know who the top listing agent(s) are in your neighborhood. Doing this will give you a better idea about what their tendencies are, what kind of houses they list, what pricing strategies they employ, and then ultimately, how they negotiate with them. 

Write your offer in the same way that you think your listing agent would.

Not knowing all that I’ve mentioned above is like shooting blind. You need that information to decide on the lender you choose, how much down payment you’ll show, how you’ll remove contingencies, how you split up closing costs—you get the point. Because ultimately, what you want that listing agent to see is an offer that they would have written if they were representing you. If they see that, then they’re probably going to tell the Seller(s) “Here are 10 offers, but there’s this one that has been written perfectly. It’s exactly the kind of offer I would write.” And if the seller trusts that person, they’re going to see your offer in a little bit of a different light compared to the others.

In a seller’s market, showing more than 20% down will give you an advantage.

Also, because there’s a bias towards cash, if you can show a higher down payment than 20%, DO IT. I’m serious about this. There really is a bias towards cash for two reasons:

  1. Number one, if you have more cash, whether you intend to use it or not, you look safer. That’s because someone who has a ton of cash on hand, in excess of a down payment of 20%, obviously either makes a lot of money, is good at saving or both, right?
  2. Second, it’s because prices are what they are, and comps are always climbing over one another. In the event that the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price, if you can show cash, you become someone who can still close by bringing in some extra cash.

In short, having cash or at least showing cash is critical. When you’re stacking up against a bunch of other offers, that’s something that the seller will definitely look at. They will look at down payments and see who’s safer, who has a little room to go up, or whatever the case is.

3. Lastly, know what the house is really worth to you.

Of course, there are houses out there that will NOT be worth it to you. When you’re having a hard time deciding, it’s really important to go back to that first step. Think about how it’s going to make you feel. More importantly, think about how that translates into a monthly payment. Ultimately, think about what it’s going to be like to live there knowing you paid $____.00  for it.

The bottom line? Don’t think that you can’t succeed in a seller’s market. It’s simply a matter of strategy. Second, your mindset is critical to your success. If you don’t fix it, you may as well give up right now. Make sure that you go into every house, every bidding situation, knowing what you want, and knowing exactly what you want it to do for you. Because when you do that, you’ll identify opportunities. Then once you’ve identified those opportunities, when you already know who’s on the other side of the table and who you’re negotiating against, you can write your offer to be as competitive as possible. That will increase your chances of getting the listing agent’s stamp of approval and ultimately, getting the seller to accept your offer.

I hope my tips on How To Buy A House In A Seller's Market has helped you.

If I can give you more context on the process of buying or selling your home, please do not hesitate to reach out. My information is below. 

Here’s to all your success!

Best,

Hans Struzyna

How To Buy A House In A Seller’s Market [like Oakland]

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How To Buy A House In A Seller’s Market [like Oakland]

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