With fewer homes on the market, several real estate agents we’ve spoken to have mentioned they’re often asking clients what neighborhoods they want to live in, then going out and knocking on doors (or networking, or using a service with exclusive listings, like Roofstock) to find homes that aren’t on the market—but are interested in selling. This requires extra legwork on your real estate agent’s part (which may be worth discussing in your vetting process), and it can be the difference between spinning your wheels and finally getting an offer accepted.
4. Give Yourself a Bigger Budget Buffer
Remember the 30 percent rule, which dictates that 30 percent of your income should go toward housing? That rule was made in the ‘60s, and it didn’t account for things like student loans (let alone 2022’s skyrocketing inflation rates). Some experts suggest lowering that figure and following the 28/36 rule instead: Your mortgage payment should be 28 percent or less of your pre-tax income, and less than 36 percent of your total debt. It provides a cushion, though we’ll be honest: It’s easier said than done. The median household income in the U.S. is $67,521, which amounts to a mortgage payment of $1,575.
But there’s a strong argument for giving yourself a bit more of a buffer: “What buyers are spending on bills, gas and groceries today may be higher in six months or a year,” Trapasso says. “So buyers want to give themselves enough room to comfortably afford their mortgage, account for rising living expenses, and continue to put away money in savings/emergency funds.”
5. Buy with the Long Haul in Mind
Yes, interest rates are the highest they’ve been in the last 10 years, spiking suddenly these past few months, but…deep breaths. Don’t let that pressure you into making a rash decision. (Three-quarters of those who bought a house in the past two years have at least one regret, with 38 percent saying they wish they spent more time searching for a home.) “There is a difference between compromising and settling,” Trapasso says, and knowing your deal-breakers can help you walk away from a deal you might regret later.
It's also worth noting that as interest rates climb, we may see fewer offers on homes overall. That cooldown could lower asking prices—and cause a dip in home values across the board. That makes it all the more important that if you’re thinking of buying now, think with the long-term in mind: “If you plan to remain in your home for five- to 10-years, you are likely to recoup that amount if the housing market dips. But there is no guarantee,” Trapasso says.
6. Ditch the Love Letters
You may have heard of people penning letters to sellers to convince them to accept their offer, but resist the urge: A Zillow survey of premiere agents found that it was the least effective strategy. Plus, it can put you at risk of violating the Fair Housing Act, if your letter includes any personal demographic information that may sway the seller’s decision.