Where does one begin when they start house hunting? The first step is talking to a mortgage lender before you house search so you know what you can really afford. The second is to find a real estate agent you trust to represent you as a buyer. But even with a great agent, those living in competitive markets might find making an offer they can afford daunting. Though every market is different, these tips should put you on the right path to owning your dream home.

Determine your priorities and the inventory of the area you want to buy.

If you know you must have certain amenities and/or need a home in a specific location, this will determine your flexibility (or lack thereof) in housing options. A good real estate agent can really make a difference here, because an agent who’s experienced with buying and selling in your preferred area can make a good guess on whether the listing price for a home is fair. Of course, any work you can do to help out your agent will benefit you. When looking at listings, check out how long certain houses have been on the market, and ask whether offers have been made and if so, how many. If there’s not much competition for a specific house and it’s been on the market for a while, you’ll have more leeway to make a lower offer.

Negotiate based on the total cost to buy the home rather than the listing price.

It’s easy to forget that the listing price of a home does not reflect the total cost you as a buyer will owe when all is said and done. Remember how you wisely consulted a mortgage lender to find out what you can really afford before settling on a home search? In addition to a downpayment and monthly mortgage payment, you should also calculate how things like fees, repairs, and closing costs will add to the overall total. The true cost of the home should determine your offer; after all, if you can’t afford it, it’s not the right house right now.

Be flexible on terms if possible, especially on priorities for the seller.

Money isn’t the only motivator for sellers. Even if you have less cash than other interested buyers, you may have more flexibility on terms that are agreeable to the seller. For instance, selling a primary home can be tricky for families if they haven’t found a new home to move into yet. Or, you may encounter a seller who needs a quick sale and immediate move-in. You may be able to use this to your advantage if you have flexibility, even with a lower offer.

Regardless of the negotiation tactics you choose, start the house hunting process the right way: by talking to a loan officer that can spell out your mortgage options. Call 888-602-6626 to get in touch with an Open Mortgage loan officer today.

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