1.) Overall Tip: If we’re strictly talking best bang for the buck, my best tip is to be the smarter consumer. Having the upper hand in the knowledge department is priceless. Either in buying or selling, there is no “Good Deal” button your agent can simply click to find the best priced homes for sale, and even if there was, you would be one of hundreds competing.
You have to be living in 2016 and listening to your local agent. Not living in 2008 and/or using websites that tout their ‘guestimates’ on values or 24 hour news networks lumping your region’s stats with the rest of the US.
Running with generalized data on the US market and often incorrect data on 3rd party internet sites isn’t what your agent would recommend to find the best deal, just as your mechanic wouldn’t recommend putting peanut butter in your gas tank for the best gas mileage. You could argue that all of that is beneficial, I suppose, but to a degree. Your neighborhood is the most relevant market and unless you’re a REALTOR®, you are probably not aware of the data you need to make an informed decision, let alone determine bang for the buck. Listen to the person that is the expert.
Ask your agent for recent sales/sales trends/average days on market in your favorite areas. Ask them for sale price to list price ratios. And ask them for resources involving economic development, school rankings, if building is an option or if they have a preferred lender that can match or beat your current approval. All of these factors can influence the price consumers pay for real estate.
So the best tip is listening…if you can’t do that, you’re not only missing out on one opportunity after another, but leaving money on the table as well.
2.) Hot Area Tip: In the St. Louis area, there are niche communities within certain areas even within certain municipalities that are hotter than hot right now. Schools, the feeling of community, convenience commutes and lifestyle are the motivators. These same areas have seen astronomical median price increases in the years following the recession.
In your area, you may know the statistically hot school districts or which side of the river to be on, but drill deep and find out where the real hot spots are. Investment opportunities are seized by gathering as much relevant content as you can, and in real estate, it’s being in the right time before being in the right place.
3.) Negotiating Tips: Feeling like you got the best bang for your buck is directly related to how good of a negotiating team you and your agent make. There are a variety of strategies and there are no right or wrong ways to negotiate; there are only best practices. Firstly, know your market well enough to know what a strong offer is and what an insulting offer looks like. Moreover, know if you’re in a sellers or buyers market. Secondly, know the specifics of your financing and how an extra $1000 or $2000 could affect your payment if the negotiations had to go there. Thirdly, know your competition. (hint: it isn’t the seller. It’s other buyers)
You’ll know all this because the smart, reliable, communicative, collaborative and tech-savvy agent you hired knows the market you’re in and made sure you were in the best position to succeed.
4.) Loan Tip: Most consumers know enough to assume all they need is a good credit score that will get them qualified for whatever they want to purchase. Banks and lending institutions all have their unique differences in rates and fees, but all are highly regulated and won’t lend you money unless you have the right combination of credit score/profile, income and asset criteria.
For example, one of our buyers was mid-transaction and decided to finance a $2,500 television, then decide to finance a $2,800 lawn mower from a door-to-door salesman. These purchases were made mere days before the closing of their home. Their new monthly payments on these items put the maximum allowable debt-to-income ratio over the limit and disqualified him from obtaining a mortgage. They subsequently could not close on the home.
Get pre-qualified in advance of touring homes in person or even before get your home on the market (if selling first before buying is a necessity).