(This picture is of wallpaper - isn't it gorgeous? - in one of the bedrooms at our vacation rental called Villa la Vie on Hilton Head Island, SC. The photo is by the wonderful Amber Shumake.)
Since it's a buyer's market, sellers are going to be amenable to making some concessions. Naturally, the first thing buyers think about is price. And, yes, sellers may be willing to come off of their asking price more than in another market. But there are a couple of other areas you might want to consider when mulling over what to ask for.
Repairs - Sellers might be more amenable to making or giving larger allowances for repairs, perhaps even for purely cosmetic things.
Points - Perhaps more importantly, Sellers might be willing to pay some points for you to buy down the interest rate of your loan. You should extensively explore this option with your mortgage broker and your realtor during negotiations.
As I mentioned, in this market, sellers are expected to make some concessions to clinch the sale. And that's okay, particularly if you're in a really nice equity position because of the recent bump in housing prices.
Never to be neglected if you're selling - and most especially in a buyer's market - is STAGING. Nothing will enhance the appeal of a home to a potential purchaser like staging - if it's done well and properly. (And, not to brag, but I know how to do it well and properly.)
You might be tempted to make a bunch of repairs to your property to get it ready to go on the market. Be judicious about what you choose to repair.
Painting is always a big bang-for-the-buck improvement (even though paint, itself, is nearly double in price from a couple of years ago) and can be a lot more cost-effective than, say, a complete remodel.
New flooring - read "wood" - or refinishing existing hardwood floors is a perennial favorite for buyers and has a high return on investment.
Other things to take care of are things that buyers are likely to notice - do a deep clean and make sure all pet odors are gone; make sure the front door is freshly painted or clean and shiny; weed and freshen the flower beds. Your realtor (especially if it's me) will know what should be done to ready the property for sale and what should wait until the negotiation stage.
Nothing Stays the Same Forever
If there is any truism in real estate, it's that the market is cyclical. Things are going to change. Rates may continue to rise, but they'll come back down at some point, as well.
Depending on your risk tolerance, creative financing such as an ARM might be worth looking at. Even without that kind of hazard, however, you can secure a mortgage now (again, think about negotiating for the seller to pay down the rate) and look forward to a time when refinancing will make a lot of sense.
The best bang for your buck is to shop and buy now, while inventory is high and the likelihood of finding the perfect home is enhanced, then refinance when rates drop. If you wait for rates to drop, competition for that perfect place will heat up.
Today's buyer's market may be a bear, but it will transform into some other creature - hopefully, a cuddlier one - before too long.
But here's the thing: no matter what the market looks like, you deserve to
Love Where You Live.
You and the right realtor - me - can make that happen. And we can do it now.