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Here are several things you can do to improve your odds when trying to get the home you really want

• Start with a loan officer who can pre-qualify you for a mortgage loan. This will position you to make a convincing offer the moment you identify a property you want.
• Vigilance pays off. In addition to your real estate agent’s work, do your own hunting online, in the local press. Drive or bike areas you want to live and be on the lookout for “FOR SALE” signs. Once in a while an owner with post a “for sale by owner” property for sale that won’t be on the radar of realtors and real estate websites, etc.
• Find a realtor who will keep you informed on new listings as they emerge on the market and changes to properties you are watching. Schedule visits to homes you are interested in as soon as you can get there.

• It’s worthwhile to do ongoing price research about the housing market where you’re looking for your home. Ask your realtor how much recently-sold homes that are similar to what you want are selling for and how much more or less than the listed price they sold for. Set your expectations around that information. If you know of three houses that sold recently for $20-$30K, you may need to offer roughly that much for a house you find that fits your needs. Sometimes, however, a house may have a peculiarity that will affect how much people will offer for it. Be sure you’re factoring that in. For example, a house that’s close to a busy freeway or train tracks is usually going to attract lower bids.

• Prepare yourself to make the big decision quickly and with confidence. Take some time to assess what you need and want in a home and try to prioritize them. Make a short list of things you think are must-haves, so you can quickly rule out otherwise tempting homes that are lacking something important.

• Before putting contingencies in an offer, consider how competitive bidding may be for the property. If it looks like a competitive situation, the fewer contingencies you put in your offer the more attractive it will be. A no-contingencies offer may also reduce the amount you would need to offer to get an accepted offer. You can talk to your mortgage lender about options like a bridge loan that can cover your existing mortgage payments as well as the new mortgage’s payments, if you find yourself in a situation where it’s going to take a while to sell your house. If you’re looking for ways to sweeten your offer on a house you really want, your loan officer and your realtor can be great resources for finding creative solutions.

• An overzealous buyers’ market can get you thinking you might have to just grab something before it gets away. If possible, take as long as you need to find a house that you’re going to be excited to call home. And while you want to make your offer attractive, it’s important not to gloss over the basic must-haves, like a quality home inspection.

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