It’s Going to Be a Lot Harder to Buy a House in 2024—Here’s How to Stand out from the Competition
Realtors share their best-kept secrets.
Whether you’re eyeing a city apartment or sprawling oasis in the suburbs, buying property is both a rite of passage and an excellent investment. But, if you are hoping to become a homeowner in 2024, the competition is going to be fierce. Realtor.com’s 2024 Housing Forecast found that home prices will slightly drop in the new year; however, the number of properties for sale is slated to decrease by 14 percent. According to Bryson Taggart, an Opendoor agent based in Arizona, the decline is a sign of the times.
“With elevated interest rates placing pressure on affordability, and general uncertainty about how they’ll trend, many homeowners are incentivized to not sell and keep their current mortgage rates,” he says. “In fact, with low housing inventory and high borrowing costs, a growing number of homeowners are investing in renovations and decor that will breathe new life into their spaces rather than moving.”
Let’s face it: With so much demand and so little supply, getting your offer approved can feel like an uphill battle–but it doesn’t have to be that way. Though the real estate market will be cutthroat, there are some small things prospective buyers can do to stand out against the competition. To help, two real estate agents are sharing their best-kept secrets for making an application pop. Realtors can’t promise following these tips will guarantee your offer is accepted, but they can help you get one step closer to becoming a homeowner in 2024.
1. Love the Listing
A bunch of prospective buyers might want to put down an offer, but what makes you want it more than them? Well, it might help to write it all down. “I have had clients who have won properties by including a love letter to the owner expressing why they want the property, what makes it important to them to own this home,” says Jennifer Okhovat, top agent at Compass’s Sunset Strip brokerage. But before you bust out the pad and paper, she says it’s a good idea to ask the seller’s agent if they’d consider a love letter.
2. Come Prepared–and Pre-Approved
In a perfect world, Taggart would recommend prospective buyers submit all-cash offers. However, if that’s outside the realm of possibility, the next best thing you can do is have all your finances prepped. “It’s important for buyers to come in with a firm understanding of their purchasing power,” he explains. “Compare different lenders and loan products, and ask about options to reduce monthly payments, like rate buydowns and mortgage assignments.”
Given the financial implications of a 15- to 30-year mortgage, he says buyers should compare rates and financing options, and shop around to understand where their dollar will go farthest.
Meanwhile, Okhovart encourages you to gather evidence that proves you can close in escrow. “Have your proof of funds of down payment and a pre-approval letter from your mortgage broker that shows you qualify,” she says. “Some mortgage brokers will even be willing to make a call to the seller’s agent to express how qualified of a buyer you are, if you are getting a loan.”
If you have all the essential finances and paperwork done, you can strike when iron is hot and put down an offer!
3. Connect with the Seller
While buying a new home is an undeniably exciting milestone, Okhovat says that selling a beloved property can be bittersweet. Show the other party that their home will be in good hands by connecting with the seller. For some, that might mean asking the selling agent about their client’s main objectives such as a target move-out date; however, Okhovat has seen some buyers get really creative with their offer.
“Some have included videos of themselves to introduce themselves to the owner and the owner can see who they are outside of a sheet of paper,” she says. Or, if you really want to up the ante, give them a gift! Okhovat had seen prospective buyers offer everything from gift cards to covering moving expenses to stand out.
4. Be Flexible
Turns out, having some wiggle room can help you seal the deal on your dream home. An Opendoor survey found that 76 percent of prospective sellers indicate a willingness to make concessions to expedite the process, such as being flexible on the closing date and reducing the asking price.
“The more accommodating buyers can be when it comes to negotiating a sale, including on items like closing dates and mortgage rate buy-downs, the more enticing their offer will be,” Taggart adds. “If sellers can move fast—and skip the hassle of cleaning, staging, and hosting tours at their home—it should bode well for the buyer.”
Ultimately, it takes two to make a deal, so being open to solutions that can benefit both parties can help seal your fate as a brand-new homeowner.