By Christine Mahoney
Being a homebuyer in an ultra-competitive seller’s market can feel like a game of whack-a-mole. Just when you’ve successfully navigated one challenge, another one pops up.
Housing costs in Georgia are generally below the U.S. average, but they’re still trending up more than 17% year-over-year. The median list price of homes in Buford this spring is $392.8K, helping Georgia rank 18th in affordability in an annual U.S. News & World Report study, which takes into consideration factors such as home prices and median household income.
Low inventory and a desire for more space (hello, home offices) coupled with relatively low interest rates mean buyers must be prepared if they want to secure the home of their dreams.
Here are some ways to help you successfully compete with other buyers.
Leverage the knowledge of a local Realtor with decades of experience in the market. Compare recent home sale prices and base your offer on the most current comps. Be realistic about your budget and consider seeing homes a bit outside of your most-desired neighborhoods. Buying a home is an emotional experience, but it’s crucial to let the experts (not an obsession with a specific floor plan or bathroom upgrade) be your guide. In today’s market, flexibility is key.
Pre-qualified buyers have a definite advantage in a seller’s market. Buyers taking mortgage loans will be competing for limited inventory, and sellers expect multiple offers within days of listing their property. As always, cash is king – so if you have the ability to make an all-cash offer, that will increase your chances of closing the deal.
Tour Other New Homes
You may already have an idea of what your dream home should look like, but have you thought about the incidentals? Things such as closet space, an extra pantry, and an attic fan will cost a lot more to add later.
Many homeowners were forced to renovate during COVID, creating dedicated space for home offices (yes, sometimes plural). With some uncertainty surrounding a return to “normal” offices, buyers need to be ready to work from home if needed. You’ll save money by building those separate spaces now, (offices with doors that close or “she sheds” converted to private workspaces) so you can move in and not get stuck working from the dining room table.
Visit other new homes in the neighborhood and take note of the amenities that you like and need. Model homes will give you lots of ideas.
Maintenance = Return on Investment
Georgia’s weather can be unpredictable, from extreme heat and humidity to sudden drought, so make sure you figure in the cost of landscaping and maintenance. LawnStarter estimates the monthly cost of landscape maintenance in Buford is $224. Considering that it costs about $4,494 to design and build a new landscape, you could save money by having your builder include hardscaping features such as a large patio, fire pit, and retaining wall.
If you’re selling your home, don’t underestimate the value of a pristine landscape. An edged, lush green lawn could up the offers coming in.
Finding the perfect home to meet your needs can be tough to do on your own. For expert real estate advice on homes in the Buford, GA area, contact the Tamra Wade Team by phone or email.
Christine Mahoney is a former news anchor obsessed with real estate, open houses, and home design. She enjoys riding horses and hiking with her family, and dreams of one day living in a beach community.