5 secrets for winning a suburban real estate homebuying bidding war

  • Suburban markets across the US are heating up in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • In some places, every home that hits the market receives multiple offers.
  • Angela Retelny, a top broker in Westchester, New York, broke down five things prospective homebuyers need to do to score a home right now. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Suburban markets across the US are heating up as homebuyers hunt for larger spaces.

While the housing market as a whole has made an impressive comeback since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, inventory is still lagging behind demand, which has created a competitive climate, particularly for homebuyers in suburban markets. 

Angela Retelny, a broker based in Westchester County, New York, with more than two decades of experience and $350 million in total sales volume, told Business Insider that it’s an unprecedented time in her region, with homes flying off the market and business going through the roof.

Last year, Retelny was a top-five agent in Scarsdale by closed sales volume and in the top 1.5% of agents nationwide, per Real Trends.

“Buyers are feeling the pressure of very little inventory,” she told Business Insider. “For example, in Scarsdale, there is practically no inventory. Every house that’s on the market has multiple offers.” 

Homes get listed and sold in a day or two, she continued, which means those looking to buy right now need to be prepared to go head to head on all-cash offers, blind bids, and offers over the asking price. 

With all this competition, how can someone set themselves up to be a fierce contender? Retelny broke down five secrets that prospective homebuyers can use to succeed in the current market. 

1.  Lock down your understanding of your own finances 

Retelny told Business Insider that it’s important for prospective homebuyers to decide how much they are willing to spend before they start the on-ground house hunt. 

What kind of questions should they ask themselves?

“What is the top price point that they can manage? Do they need financing? Are they comfortable waiving the financing contingency in a contract so they can compete more effectively against more agile buyers?” she asked.

“A buyer needs to understand their financial picture ahead of the game to know that they can do this.”

2. Secure a list of inspectors who can inspect the house immediately

In this competitive climate, if you book an inspection three or four days after the offer is accepted, chances are you are going to lose the house to another offer. As Retelny said, you should aim to have the inspections done the same day. 

“Should they get an accepted offer on a property, they need to inspect immediately, in many cases the same day. In the worst-case scenario, the next day,” she said. 

3. Be prepared to overbid

In a pre-pandemic market, Retelny said it was acceptable to start low and negotiate up. However, in many of today’s suburban markets, you have to make an attractive offer right away — that means offering the asking price, right under the asking price, or in some cases, over the asking price.

“You’ve got to come in strong,” she said. “If you start low, you’re going to be ignored.” 

4. Find a seasoned agent who can educate you about the area

In currently competitive suburban markets, the luxury of browsing neighborhoods does not exist. If you tour a house and then spend a few days looking up details about the neighborhood, someone else will likely make an offer, Retelny explained. 

It’s important to find an agent who already knows details about the area, like taxes and the school district, so they can answer all your questions on the spot. 

5. Be prepared to lose a deal

“It’s a crazy world we’re in. You just have to go with your gut feeling, and you have to make assertive decisions and execute, execute, execute,” she said.

“Emotions are high, there’s a lot of heartbreak in this market. A lot of buyers put in offers and get accepted offers only to get calls the next day saying, ‘We’re sorry, but we just got an offer that was significantly higher.'”

People are happy to spend $100,000, sometimes $200,000, over the asking price for a house they really love because inventory is low, and they just don’t know when they’ll come across another ideal property, Retelny said. 

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