The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Homebuyers Today
There was a point, not too long ago, when buying a house was fairly straightforward: You’d schedule some tours, make an offer, and boom, you’re in the house before you know it.
Today, though, the housing market is a very different animal—fast, ferocious, and ever-changing. In such an environment, it’s no longer a given that all homebuyers will easily find a house and seal the deal. And even more surprisingly, those lucky folks who do succeed aren’t just sitting on piles of cash. On the contrary, real estate agents and other experts we spoke to say that successful homebuyers today simply possess a particular mindset and behaviors that help them persevere in today’s market.
So what are these qualities, you might ask?
1. They’re persistent
While the market might be slowing down in some places, in other areas buyers are still facing intense competition for available properties. This means you might have to make offers on a few homes before one is accepted. As a result, persistence pays off more than ever before.
“Persistent [homebuyers] may still continue to find success,” Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com®, noted recently.
Indeed, she adds, recent data “showed that homeownership rates increased from a year ago, both overall and for nearly every age and racial and ethnic group.”
The lesson here is if your first, second, or third offer doesn’t get accepted, don’t give up.
2. They keep their emotions in check
Buying a home can be a highly emotional process, particularly if you’re in a hot market where you’re competing in a multiple-offer situation. And if you fall in love with a certain home, watch out! The heartbreak that ensues if your bid is rejected might bring you to tears and, worse, despair.
While it’s understandable that feelings can run amok, try to not let your mind wander toward the dark side where you start thinking “What’s wrong with me?”
Successful buyers “don’t take rejection personally,” says Ashley Chambers, a partner at ASAP Cash Offer in Miami. “If a house doesn’t work out, they know there will be others.”
Try as best you can to lean on logic during emotional moments—and do your best to never allow yourself to get too attached to a house before the deal is done.
Watch: 4 (Mostly) Bright New Realities of Buying a Home Today
3. They’re open-minded and willing to move
Traditionally, if you were shopping for a home, you would look within a very small radius, particularly one that gave you a manageable commute to work. But now, with the rise of working from home, those rules have changed—and homebuyers’ standards should adjust along with it.
“One factor driving the success of home shoppers is an incredibly strong labor market that is giving workers the ability to negotiate remote or hybrid working arrangements, even as in-person work is growing more common,” explains Hale.
“With flexible work arrangements still available, home shoppers are able to consider homes farther afield of the office, in the more affordable suburbs or even in a new, less expensive state altogether, enacting their own personal plan to combat cost-of-living increases,” adds Hale.
If you have flexible work options available to you, consider expanding your home search beyond where you’d traditionally look. You might discover other options that will give you more value for your money.
4. They’re not afraid to ask questions
Before making the biggest purchase of their life, smart shoppers would have questions—about the property they hope to buy, the homebuying process itself, all of it. Yet in a fast, competitive market, some might feel pressure to keep questions to a minimum just to keep the deal moving, as though you should feel lucky a home seller accepted your offer at all.
Despite any reservations you might have, Rinal Patel, co-founder of We Buy Philly Home in Philadelphia, suggests bringing your questions to your real estate agent so that you can enter into your transaction with confidence.
“When looking at homes with your agent, be sure to ask them plenty of questions. Not only will this help you get a better understanding of the home and the market, but it will also give your agent a good sense of what you’re looking for,” he advises. “The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to make the right decision.”
5. They see beyond how a home looks
Everyone wants the perfect home. However, in this market, it’s likely that you will have to make some compromises. Inventory is still low and multiple buyers are competing for the same few homes, all of which means that you’ll be more likely to find success if you’re willing to compromise.
“The most successful buyers today are able to look beyond cosmetic repairs,” says Ashley York, managing broker and owner of Realtopia Real Estate in Lockport, IL. “They can visualize the potential of a property that other homebuyers may overlook in trying to find that perfect home that everyone else also wants right now.”
6. They can draw a firm line between wants and needs
While house hunters of the past might have been able to snag their dream home without too much struggle, today’s homebuyers must be realists. And one way they do this is by knowing the difference between what they want and what they need in a home.
“I encourage buyers to make a list of needs versus wants,” says Marie Bromberg, an agent with Compass in New York City. “If the list of needs outweighs the wants, then they might need to reevaluate their criteria.”
While needs can remain non-negotiable, be willing to be flexible when it comes to your wants, especially if they are things that you can add to the property later on. This is what it takes if you ever hope to buy a home today.
7. They’re flexible and available
“Being flexible is another essential habit to adopt as a homebuyer,” says Kerry Sherin, a consumer advocate with Ownerly in Austin, TX. Since homes are selling at an extremely fast pace, waiting until the weekend to see it might be too late.
“If your real estate agent calls you at the last minute with a great new listing, you should go as soon as you can,” advises Sherin.
And if you do make an offer, Sherin adds that it also pays to be “flexible and accommodating when it comes to contract negotiations.”
If a home seller has multiple offers, the easygoing homebuyer is bound to stand out more than one who demands tons of repairs or other stipulations to close the deal.