It’s still a serious sellers’ market here in Jacksonville, Florida and its surrounding areas much to the dismay of of people looking to buy their first homes, upgrade, or for people being transferred to the area for work or service. Recent statistics from the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors are telling with only 3.5 months of inventory and homes selling at around 97% of list price overall. Jacksonville is still considered an affordable market with the average resale closing at just $187,945. Jacksonville was identified as the #2 best place to invest by Forbes in December of 2016, which has only increased demand. So besides being realistic about these figures, what can you do to be sure that your offer is the one that gets accepted? Here are a few tips.
Be prepared and aggressive
This goes for you and your Realtor. Preparing as a buyer means that you have a solid pre-approval letter from a reputable (preferably local) lender. Sellers may not know who isn’t reputable, but the listing agent will and will advise their sellers accordingly. A great lender may even proactively call the listing agent to “talk you up” to them. It’s important that they know that you are very well qualified and are going into the transaction with a strong application so that getting to closing should happen as seamlessly as possible. It’s just as important that you choose a Realtor who knows the market, is highly available, and who is ready to help you grab your dream home! If you’re working with someone who sells homes part time, only shows homes on their very limited schedule, or who doesn’t respond to you quickly then it’s time to move on. When my buyer’s dream home hits the market, I run out the door to show it as quickly as their schedule allows for it. If they know this is “the one” I can write up an offer, get it signed, and email it to the listing agent while we are still standing in the front yard in all of 10 minutes.
When sellers have received more than one offer on their home, it doesn’t always come down to price when they’re choosing which offer to take. Sellers remember when they saved up to buy this home themselves. They’ve brought babies home and raised them, had ups and downs, managed home improvement projects, and maybe buried pets in the backyard. This isn’t the time to be insulting. Being relatable may just be the deciding factor in who the seller decides to sell to. Part of this also falls on your Realtor. I’ve had success with having my buyers write a heartfelt letter addressed to the sellers. Tell them what you love about their home, how you imagine using the space, and what your future looks like there. Ask your Realtor to present it in person with the offer. Sometimes this personal touch is the extra bit that sets you apart!
Be fair but know when to walk away
In a seller’s market and especially with a new listing, it’s important to be aggressive in your timing but also to be fair in your offer. Have your Realtor run comparable sales for the neighborhood to determine a fair range of value then decide
how to best structure your offer. We simply aren’t in the market to send low ball offers and doing so may offend the seller to the point that they outright reject your offer and refuse to work with you. If the house is priced well you must be willing to pay full price. Period. The mindset of needing to “get a deal” just has no place in this market when shopping for a home as your primary residence. If you need to further sweeten the deal, you may offer to close early or later as the seller needs to or take the home as-is if you are confident in the condition.
The other side to this is knowing when to walk away. It’s easy to get caught in a bidding war when there are multiple offers on the table, but if your Realtor has helped you determine the home’s value and you’ve received counter offer well above that, consider walking away. If you’re like the majority of people who need a mortgage to purchase a home, the bottom line is that you’ll have difficulty purchasing a home for more than the appraised value and really, why should you? This is when we hope that the listing agent has also done their homework and has given the sellers a realistic value for their home. Once in a while, though, you’ll deal with someone who has a serious emotional attachment to their home and no dollar amount will ever be enough. Your Realtor should recognize this and it’s advised to move on to the next prospect when you see this.
Allison Rodrigues is the owner and broker of Bold City Real Estate. She is passionate about her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida but helps both buyers and sellers in most areas of Northeast Florida. Her background in real estate law made the transition to selling homes an easy one and she prides herself on being available, adaptable, and transparent with her clients. She can be reached at 904-210-8387 or by email at Allison@BoldCityLife.com.