Some frustrated home buyers are being shut out of today’s real estate market because other buyers always seem to get there first. They want to buy. They’re qualified to buy. But by the time they can make an offer, it seems someone else has gotten there first.
Here’s an example from a question someone recently asked:
There have been about 16 properties overall that my agent and I viewed or I was very interested in. I am beginning to feel that either the agents, banks or whoever is on some kind of inside knowledge. As sometimes I maybe on the way to look at a property that was just listed. Then I would get a call from my agent that it just went under contract… I look at about 6 to 7 sites daily, and she does her part but I am on a deadline. But even today, I saw a home that was just listed, and then she calls back and say that it was under contract. It makes no sense, She says that it went under contract May 4th, and it was listed May 3rd, but it was not even shown on the MLS, or any of the sites until today. What gives? It’s like someone call their friend before it’s listed, and they have the inside knowledge. It’s really frustrating.
Does some of that sound familiar? Here’s how I answered, offering some insider tips on how to get there before the competition:
The first clue something was wrong is that the question asked on May 24. However, the would-be buyer said the house was listed May 3 “but it was not even shown on the MLS… until today.” There’s something seriously wrong there. (The MLS is the “multiple listing service,” an online database agents use to list homes.) Most MLS systems (probably all – it’s a nationwide collection of local systems) have regulations on posting listings quickly. There shouldn’t be a 3-week lag between an agent taking a listing and posting it on the MLS. If that happens to you, ask your Realtor to look into that. Either it wasn’t really listed on the 3rd, or it appeared way before the 24th. There shouldn’t be a 3-week lag. My guess: It was listed on the 3rd, but the sites the buyer was looking at didn’t show it until the 24th. Solution: Use the right sites.
Keep reading to find out which ones they are.
Second, I asked the buyer why she was looking on 6-7 sites daily. It’s only necessary to use one – any one that is connected to the MLS. Your local Realtor probably will have a link on his or her site to search the MLS. Or for anywhere in the country, go to http://www.Realtor.com. There are many other sites – Zillow and Trulia, for example – but they receive the same feeds you can find on the official MLS sites, only with some delay. And there IS a lag between the time something’s posted on the MLS and the time it may show up on other sites that receive feeds. Usually, it might just be a day or two, though, not 3 weeks.
Third, if you’re losing the race to buy a home, then have your agent announce your needs at his/her weekly agent’s sales meeting. Many agencies have weekly agent meetings, and one part of the agenda is that they’ll go around the room announcing recent listings and other activities. It’d be perfectly appropriate for an agent to say, “I’m representing a client who’s looking for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath single-family home in Fairfax Virginia for under $375,000.” That way, agents discover properties before they hit the MLS. I’ve seen agents announce properties that they have scheduled to list in a week or two (often the owner is doing some last-minute fix-up work), and another agent will go over to the first one and say, “I have a client who’s interested in that sort of home.” And so sometimes the listing doesn’t even make it to the MLS.
Fourth: Make sure you’re looking at FSBOs (for sale by owners), too. Those houses won’t appear on the MLS. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not 3 weeks from now. (Unless a flat rate listing service is used.) Ask your Realtor to look for FSBOs.
Fifth: Eliminate the competition. Most buyers are looking for houses for sale. Duh! So look in other places, too. Make purchase offers… on rentals. Sometimes people decide to rent out a home because they don’t think it’ll sell. Or because they don’t want the extra hassle of getting it ready for sale. Still, some landlords would like to sell. So, make an offer on a rental you see that you’d like to buy. Your Realtor can help you with that strategy and process.
Sixth: If you find a landlord who doesn’t want to sell today, offer to buy using a lease-option or lease-purchase. That way, you rent today, but usually lock in a price at which you can buy. Sometimes – for tax or other reasons – an owner just doesn’t want to sell today. So you let him sell when he wants to. But meanwhile you’ve locked up the home.
So: You’ve just learned about 6 ways to get ahead of the competition – or avoid the competition altogether – when you want to buy a home.
Happy house hunting!