In this spirit, here are some tips to help you get through a quick home purchase with minimal battle wounds.
1) Realtor Selection - To buy a home quickly usually means you need to power shop. This is not for the faint of heart. The most important thing is to make sure that you pick a realtor who is flexible and available... and has the endurance to handle power house hunting. I can tell you that not every agent is equipped for this, nor does ever agent want to run a sprint like this.
2) Needs/Wants Definition - A good realtor will listen to your needs and wants and zero in quickly on the best options. This helps ensure that your time is spent looking at homes that are more likely to be "Yeses." When time is short, you don't want to spend it at homes that aren't going to work for you. To help your agent accomplish this, you have to spend some time defining AND prioritizing what is most important to you in this home search. Once you have defined it, you have to make sure you articulate those in a way that your agent can understand.
3) Differentiate Between Wants and Needs - The longer your laundry list of "must haves" is the more difficult it will be to find that "perfect" fit and may result in a long search. I am not suggesting that you give on your wants or needs but that you have taken the time to prioritize them and decide which ones are non-negotiable. This will hopefully allow you to have a selection of properties to pick from in a short amount of time. Along these same lines, you may want to consider what upgrades/changes you are willing to make to a property once it is yours. This is especially helpful for those with specific and discriminating tastes.
4) Pictures Tell a Thousand Words - If you can locate some pictures that help you show your agent what elements/styles of a home appeal to you. The more you can do that, the better equipped your agent is to sift through properties and find those that will be better fits for your desires. Another aspect of this is to give your agent specific feedback on what you like or don't like about a home you saw or a listing you reviewed online. These things all help minimize the predictive error of your agent picking one that "isn't a good fit" and allows you to spend your time focused on those that could very well work.
5) Get your Financing Ready - When possible, start your financing process early so that when you find the home of your dreams, you are ready to present a strong offer backed by pre-approval. These days, most sellers and their agents have come to appreciate that a pre-qualification letter isn't a strong predictor of financing approval. As such, they don't tend to hold much value in the offer process. However, getting pre-approved (which means the lender has verified the information you provided and affirms that they believe you will successfully qualify for financing - NOTE: there are still additional steps the lender has to go through so there is still no guarantee to the seller that the deal will close at this point... but chances are better than with just a pre-qualification letter.)
6) Find Out About Closing Constraints - Once you have zeroed into some viable options, have your agent find out about closing constraints to ensure there are no hurdles that can't be overcome to meet your required timeline.
7) Put Your Best Foot Forward - Once you have found "the one" talk to your agent about an offer/negotiation strategy that eliminates that may be best suited to eliminate the lengthy back and forth. You may want to do something like offering a more generous earnest deposit to demonstrate your commitment to close.
8) Be Responsive - If you have driven your agent to work quickly to facilitate a speedy home purchase, you have to make sure you are also being responsive during the process. This includes getting information to your agent about showing availability, financing status, property feedback, offer specifics, etc.
9) Evaluate Contingencies - Each contingency on an offer (financing, inspections, etc) is a benefit to the buyer to ensure they have due process to evaluate the home for purchase. At the same time, these are also "risks" to the home seller and take time to complete. Contingencies are in place for good reason. However, in some cases where quick purchases are a requirement not a choice, waiving certain contingencies could be a way to save time and expedite closing.
10) Harness Emotion - The last item is more about being self aware that quick purchases can sometimes turn into emotional decisions, which are not always the best decisions. Being reflective throughout the process allows you to be aware of when emotions are starting to cloud rationale thinking and plan accordingly.
Real estate purchases are big investments. Whenever possible, take your time to ensure that your purchase is a good one. And, when you don't have the luxury of time, careful planning can help you avoid mistakes.
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