How To Buy In A Tight Market

You’ve all read the headlines – the housing market is on a streak hotter than an expert card-counter at the blackjack table. The news is replete with stories of skyrocketing prices, low inventories, brutal bidding wars, buyers paying 10-20% above market value without question, and even all-cash offers from corporate buyers. All of which is to say, this is a seller’s paradise. For buyers, not so much. 


Competition is stiff out there. Even though prices are high, demand is strong and shows little sign of abating. We’re in the middle of the traditionally busy season for real estate, and we started from an already chaotic point in the market. As interest rates remained low, and as savings increased over the course of the pandemic, more and more prospective buyers have found themselves in a good position to take the plunge. This is also the reason why higher and higher prices seem to not have deterred many buyers, since lower interest rates end up saving thousands over the course of a mortgage, and what they save often turns out to be more than the difference in price on the home. 


If you include the powerful incentive to buy now and lock in a low interest rate, it’s easy to see why we’re in the middle of a veritable gold rush for homes right now. Add all of that up, and it makes for a truly daunting experience for buyers.


Even in normal times – and we’re not in normal times by any means – if you’re buying, you need to be able to distinguish your offer from other buyers. In this market, you’ve got your work cut out for you. So what’s a would-be homeowner to do?


To start, make sure you have a good buyer’s agent. They’re going to be your lifeline and roadmap through this challenging process. Even on a good day, buying a home is difficult enough; when you have to compete against other buyers and even all-cash offers, it becomes that much harder. 


When it comes to making compelling offers on a home, I usually tell buyers that it’s not always the amount of the offer, but sometimes the time frame on which it’s placed. Often, sellers are themselves moving to another home, and this involves buying one (basically, they’re doing the same thing you are when they’re not busy trying to sell their home, which is literally double the work). So, if you’re not in a hurry to move in, giving a generous timetable in your offer can make a real difference. This is especially important now because, in this market, chances are the seller may need some time to find and close on their new home. Giving them that breathing room might very well out-compete even the stoutest of all-cash offers. 


Now more than ever, it’s important to keep your offer clean. I know, this means giving up some concessions, but we are where we are. What I mean by a clean offer is attaching as few contingencies as possible to it, such as an appraisal, or the seller’s purchase of a home. This gives the seller some assurance that you have fewer opportunities to back out of a contract, and certainty is everything to a seller – this also helps them move forward with their own purchase of a new home, and this can make a real difference in nudging the entire process along. You should also avoid asking for seller concessions, like help with closing costs. It’s not ideal to give up this much, but it’s a huge help when it comes to making your offer more attractive than those of other buyers. How much should you be prepared to concede? It depends on what you’re willing to give up in order to have this particular home or, if the supply is really that low, any home. Obviously, this should be discussed with your agent on a case-by-case basis, because you don’t want to give up a home inspection on a fixer-upper when the goal is to move your family into it. 


You can also help your offer stand out by putting down an EMD or earnest money deposit. It shows that you’re serious about the home. Typically, an EMD is held by third parties like attorneys or title companies, and goes toward your down payment and/or closing costs, usually totaling 1-3% of both. Ideally though, you want to put down as high an amount as possible, because that increases the chances of your offer being accepted. In this case, more is more. Again, this gives the seller some assurance, but make sure that you’re certain about buying the home. Depending on the contract, if you put down an EMD and don’t purchase the house, in some cases the seller can keep that deposit in compensation for the time their home is off the market. 


Finally, if you’ve bought your home within the last six months and found yourself needing to move again, delayed financing is a potential option. This allows buyers to access the equity of their homes immediately by choosing a cash-out mortgage. This provides buy-in cash to remove financing contingency in ultra-competitive real estate markets, and can help you compete with all-cash offers as well as give the seller that coveted assurance that keeps coming up in this blog (hint: yes, it’s that important!). 


You can access the equity in your property sooner than a standard cash out refinance, and this can help accelerate the buying process. Lenders are also more commonly using programs that allow you to buy the house, pay cash, and then finance after the fact. Again, this can make your offer a lot more competitive among one or more other all-cash offers. 


This may not be a possibility for everyone, but it’s an example of how lenders are willing to adapt to help buyers in this new environment. Make sure you ask your agent and your lender what options are available to you! As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions! 


  • Matt


Matt Guarro is a top-producing Florida REALTOR servicing the New Smyrna Beach, Winter Park, Edgewater, Port Orange, and Daytona Beach areas.


103 Cunningham Drive, New Smyrna Beach FL


« 1 of 3 »

A highly desirable location in coveted New Smyrna Beach! Located directly on the Intracoastal waterway and minutes to access the Atlantic Ocean via Ponce Inlet which you can see from your backyard! The position of this home within the community of Inlet Shores is impeccable as you look directly down Rockhouse creek, on to disappearing island, through to the jetty and Inlet. 180 degrees of unobstructed views out back from your 41 ft balconies or through the large high impact windows providing peace of mind, comfort and value! Unbelievable boaters set up with DEEP water dock in place where the owner currently houses a 56′ Hatteras, includes a 10,000 lbs. covered boat lift, davits, and 50 amp power. In minutes your ready to enjoy life on the water whether it be on an abundance of nearby Islands, waterfront restaurants, dock fishing or offshore/backwater fishing. Large 75’x200′ lot is ready for your pool design, finishing off your resort style private oasis. This home offers a great deal of comfort and privacy for friends and family to enjoy! 5 bedrooms, 2 of which have their own ensuite, and all have wonderful views! The owner has extensively renovated this home with 2 story, 1775 sq. ft. concrete block construction addition. Large great room occupies the back of the home opening up for entertaining while 10 ft ceilings pull in light and picturesque views. Stunning, private, large master suite with ensuite and walk-in closet adjoins a spacious bonus room. Use for entertainment, theater, gym, or office….you name it! Imagine the sunrises from the bed! Bring your creative style, and designer talent to cap off the finishing touches in the kitchen and baths as the seller left these for you to add your mark. Other recent upgrades include 2 AC units, paint, porcelain tile, carpet, sprinkler system and sod. Don’t forget the very spacious 3 car garage allowing you to house cars and toys. Capture your piece of the Florida lifestyle now!

325 N Putnam Grove Rd, Oak Hill Florida


« 1 of 2 »

Welcome to Moody Hawk Farm, 22.05 acres named after one of resident hawks that patrol the property. The more time you spend on this property the more it is appreciated through the eyes of endless possibility. Zoned A1 including Agricultural exemption currently in place through a honeybee lease currently at the back of the property. The current owners originally set into motion their dream of having an Agritourism center including expansive opportunities including weddings, winery, overnight lodging, retail sales, recreational activities, tours, reunions, company retreats, holiday event, music festivals, educational workshops, and others! As you meander down the long driveway toward the large 40’x60′ barn you are greeted by a 40’x20′ covered patio. Continuing onto the double french doors welcoming you to the grand ball room you will be attracted to the 20′ ceilings, massive hand-built bar!

Highlights include a 4 compartment sink, plumbing for ice maker and beer coolers, 2 instant hot water heaters, 400 amp electric panel with 240 outlets by the stairs for beer making, 19×19 storage room suitable for a walk-in cooler, commercial kitchen and health department compliant, 20×40 upstair room with full bathroom and laundry facilities, ADA compliant bathroom downstairs, and 3 AC units. Outside on the manicured grounds you will find a 46’x21′ Carolina carport that includes 2 enclosed bays and one open air bay, 4 wells, 1 potable with water treatment system and others for irrigation, main barn is plumbed for 2 outdoor bathrooms, electric is ran to the workshop/carport area, and mobile chicken coop. The cultivated grounds include 40 persimmon trees, 800 lbs. of turmeric, 250′ of blackberry trellis, 30 mulberry trees, 8 Loquats and 50 beehives via Apiary lease along with extensive landscape trees circling the property. Be sure to head down the road behind the back of the main barn where there is cleared area perfect for a possible home site. Ready to make your dreams come true?

414 Central Mariners Drive, Edgewater FL


« 1 of 2 »

Wonderful POOL home situated on a corner waterfront lot located in Mariners Gate! This is a uniform neighborhood of newer homes creating a very aesthetically pleasing atmosphere. The home is very spacious at over 2300 sq ft and has an amazing layout conducive to a family lifestyle and entertaining. There are 2 living areas. One that is currently set as a game room but allows many possibilities to a new home owner. You have a split bedroom floor plan that includes a large master suite that opens up to a beautiful view of the pool. Indoor laundry room. Beautiful vinyl flooring has been added throughout the main living areas of the home for a durable, long lasting, updated look. Step outside to the pool where you have an amazing space to entertain. Completely screened in sun deck for soaking up the suns rays and a covered/roofed area for shade when you want to cool off and watch TV outdoors. Entertain while listening to the pool fountain as you overlook the pond complete with an additional fountain that is lit up at night to set the mood. The huge expense of a NEW ROOF has been completed for you in 2018! Additional updates include HVAC 2015, pool pump in 2019, cedar panel lined ceiling in the lanai, flooring with 5″ baseboards 2018, interior and exterior paint, kitchen appliances in 2015, and new sod in 2016. You have found a home move in ready and very close to shopping, boat ramps, and the beach. A must see home….schedule your viewing appt. today!

View Map