The California housing market in 2015 is booming.
The inventory of available homes, condos, lofts, town homes, and duplexes available for sale is at historic lows. Nowhere is this more true than the major tech areas like San Francisco’s Silicon Valley and the Los Angeles Silicon Beach area.
If you are looking for residential property to buy in Los Angeles, you are seeing multiple offers on the opening weekend for any decent new listing. How can you beat the crowd and find a great house for your family or for your investment portfolio? Here are seven methods that could make the difference.
- Modify the criteria for you search
This type of market is not the time for finding your perfect home in the perfect neighborhood. Think carefully about what really matters right now. Could you get by with 3 bedrooms instead of 4? Maybe you can add another bedroom later. Is the neighborhood next door to your preferred area likely to improve over the next few years? Venice and Mar Vista were not “preferred” neighborhoods 15 years ago.
You wanted a move-in-ready house. Maybe a decent house that needs some work will be your fallback. Step back and imagine what the house could be with a new kitchen or hard wood floors. Be realistic about what you can afford to pay for improvements in the short term.
- Check out expired and withdrawn listings from the past two years
The market has been changing rapidly. There may be folks who pulled their homes off the market two years ago because they couldn’t get enough to pay off the mortgage. Homes have increased in price by 30% or more in the last two years, and some of those situations have changed. The owners may not realize the change or just might not have gotten around to listing again.
- Get prequalified for a loan or come with cash
In the vast majority of cases your competition will have cash or be able to prove they can get a loan. As a result there won’t be any need for a loan contingency. These buyers will be able to offer the same or less for the home in many cases, and still win the bidding war compared to those who need a contingency.
- Use a realtor
You will want to use real estate professionals throughout the transaction. This will start with the real estate agent and the mortgage broker.
You need a professional realtor who will work hard to help you find opportunities that make sense for your needs and budget, not waste your time driving you to homes that are not right for you.
- Network to find homes going on the market before they hit the multiples
Use your friends and associates to help scout the market. Let everyone you are connected with on Social Media know that you are looking for a home. Remind everyone on Facebook at least once a week about your need. It only takes one person who just saw a sign go up next door, and you could get there ahead of the crowd.
- Drive the streets and Check Pocket Listings
While rare, there are times when homes are sold by owner. You may find some of these on Craig’s List or other online sites. But you might also find such homes by driving through the neighborhoods you are hoping to live in.
Similarly, there are times when homes are not in the multiple listings, but there may be a sign in front of the home. Some homeowners want to sell but don’t want to or can’t list. Maybe they simply don’t want the hassle of keeping a clean home and dealing with showings. Or perhaps they’re just very private. In the luxury market, some owners just don’t want to publicly list their homes.
Some real estate agents network about potential deals that are not yet on the market or that are private listings. There are dedicated websites for agents to share off-market properties, also known as “pocket” listings. Also, brokerage firms like Coldwell Banker generally release upcoming listings to their agents before they hit the MLS. Working with a well-connected agent like Whit Prouty will ensure that you are privy to these potential opportunities.
- Scout out new listings yourself.
Check out Zillow.com, Realtor.com, and browse your local newspaper’s real estate section. If you see a home you like, your real estate agent will schedule a showing.
Also keep track of overpriced listings that may be sitting on the market. The longer they sit, the more likely they are to consider a substantially lower offer.