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In the eye of a seller’s market storm, finding your dream home can feel like paddling upstream with a mangled oar. Homes sell at lightning speed, with properties darting on and off the market in a matter of days. Even if you do manage to act fast and make an offer before your fellow prospective home buyers, you might not be able to seal the deal in a market where many properties are selling far beyond their asking prices. 

However, buyers that are hoping to move into their dream home this year need not despair. From identifying your deal-breakers to switching negotiation tactics, there are many ways to kick your housing search into hyper gear amidst this fast-paced market. Read on for six tips for closing on your perfect property this year.

When all else fails, build custom

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Maybe it would be possible to find an affordable four-bedroom with vaulted ceilings and a breakfast nook in a pre-pandemic housing market. However, in 2021, it might be challenging to find an affordable option that checks every box on your wishlist. If you’ve been struggling to find a picture-perfect property, consider shopping for custom house plans like these. That way, you can handpick your ideal floor plan and dodge draining bidding wars. 

Building your house will also allow you to design a home with every feature you’ve been looking for and eliminate the need for any after-purchase home repairs. However, should you decide to step onto the frontlines of the prospective buyer battleground, you’ll need to keep a few tips in mind. 

1. Get a real estate agent

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The home buying process is much more complicated than just swinging by an open house, especially in a housing market where home buyers snag properties sight-unseen long before the open house occurs. Fortunately, a real estate agent can help guide you through the home-buying process and answer any questions you may have as you navigate the sweltering heat of today’s housing market.

2. Expect to compromise 

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The word “compromise” likely conjures images of settling for your second-choice restaurant on date night or agreeing to watch your spouse’s go-to television show in lieu of your favorite binge-worthy series. Rarely, if ever, do we imagine compromising on our dream home. 

Unfortunately, in a seller’s market, the chances of scoring your dream property on your first go-around compare to the odds of winning your local jackpot. Once you’ve accepted this dismal reality, it’s time to admire the beauty of second best. 

Although your second, third, and even fourth choices may be missing that three-car garage or those lounge-friendly bay windows, recognize these properties’ unique advantages. For example, while the house you’re touring may fail to check off the “built-in breakfast nook” and “kid-proofed mudroom” wishlist items, this property may win you over with its floor-to-ceiling windows or top-of-the-line soaking tub. 

While it may be tempting to lean into grass-is-greener thinking, appreciate the diamond in the rough you’ve found, and realize this runner-up could vanish from the housing market in an instant. With these high stakes in mind, stop looking for the bigger-better-deal and contact your realtor before it’s too late. 

3. Identify your deal breakers

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As the saying goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Without a list of deal-breakers to reference, you may find yourself obsessing over every granite-filled, stainless-steel-saturated property you come in contact with. To avoid falling with Mr. Wrong, aka a home that falls short in checking-off your must-haves, compile a list of nonnegotiables. 

Maybe you need to be within fifteen minutes of your work, or perhaps you can’t live without a third bedroom. Whatever your deal breakers might be, identifying them before beginning a search in this competitive market will make it easier to find your dream home.

4. Look towards a lower price range

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Since many homes today sell above their asking prices, it’s essential to adjust your budget accordingly. For example, if you were willing to pay $275,000 maximum, you may want to expand your search to include houses in the $300,000-$325,000 range and plan on offering a bit more if you find a place you like. 

Otherwise, plan to tumble to the bottom of the bidder list when you offer $10,000 under the asking price while your competing prospective buyers hand over $50,000 extra in cash. 

5. Take time constraints seriously

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In today’s market, spotting a home online at the beginning of the week and attending an open house that weekend is a luxury of the past. That said, adjust your expectations accordingly and realize that procrastination won’t help you land your dream property. While it may be tempting to take a day or two to daydream about living in the affordable three-bedroom just listed, you’ll need to act on any properties you like ASAP.

Should you fail to break your procrastination habits, you may find yourself waving goodbye to your perfect-fit property. Avoid the devastation of restarting your house hunt by acting fast and openly communicating with your realtor. 

6. Switch up negotiation tactics

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Under normal market conditions, you might be able to score a bit of a discount by offering $5,000 under a home’s listed selling price. By contrast, placing an offer of $325,000 for a home with an asking price of $330,000 will yield little success in a seller’s market. Unfortunately, without a competitive offer, you are much less likely to seal the deal. With these high-stakes in mind, consider offering $5,000 over the selling price to ensure you sign for your dream home.

Parting thoughts

It can be easy to feel discouraged when searching for the perfect place in a hot housing market. From high-tension bidding wars to the grueling hours spent hopping from open house to open house, challenges are waiting around every corner—whether you’re vying for a two-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city or a home in cozy suburbia.

However, with the help of a reliable real estate agent who knows a thing or two about negotiation, there are plenty of ways to make sure you can close on your dream house this year.

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