116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Like the temperature in an Iowa summer, the housing market across the Corridor is hot! Just take it from Jessica Bandy, a mortgage lender with Hills Bank who has served customers around Eastern Iowa for years. “I’ve heard from local Realtors that a home can be on the market for less than eight hours and already have 20-plus offers,” she said. “With low housing inventory and competitive buyers, it’s definitely a seller’s market.”
If you’re thinking of buying a home soon, what does that mean for you? Bandy has a few tips to help you navigate the process and find a place that suits you in this hot housing market.
START LOOKING EARLY
“It’s good to give yourself time to search, especially in this market. You may put in offers on many different homes but still lose out,” Bandy said. “If you have a time frame of when you would need to move into a new home, say because a lease is up, you may want to start your search sooner rather than later.”
However, for those who are selling their houses and buying new ones, Bandy advised being more strategic: “It’s fairly easy to sell your home right now, but harder to buy one.” For those people, and for others who are in a flexible position on when to buy a home, waiting may be the right move.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE MAKING AN OFFER
With sellers having more power in the market, there are a number of things you should be aware of. “There are a lot of homes being sold ‘as-is,’ even if repairs are needed,” Bandy said. And on top of being sure to “eye before you buy,” you may need to adjust your offer to be competitive with other buyers. “Besides just the overall sale amount, sellers may choose an offer that has a higher down payment or a sooner closing date,” she said.
Most importantly, buyers need to make sure they have their financing in order before they start the home-buying process. “If you don’t have a pre-qualification letter in hand when you submit an offer, you’ll set yourself apart from other buyers – and not in a good way,” Bandy said.
It’s best to work with your preferred financial institution beforehand to secure a pre-qualification for a loan, and to avoid things like opening new debt or changing jobs while you are searching for a home, as these can jeopardize your loan approval.
WORK WITH LOCAL EXPERTS
“Home buyers often don’t realize that, for them, working with a Realtor is often free,” Bandy said. “Take advantage of their knowledge of the local market and the expertise they bring to help you create an offer and negotiate if needed.”
And don’t forget: the person working to secure your loan is also a valuable resource for questions! “Helping new home buyers become confident in their search, and seeing that twinkle in their eyes when they realize they’re on their way to their dream home – that’s what I love most about my job,” Bandy said.