The first quarter of 2009 is just about over, and the ride was starting to smooth out toward the end. Over the next two weeks, you'll be hearing updated housing statistics on a national level, but please feel comfortable emailing me for a customized Market Snapshot of your Alexandria VA neighborhood or zip code.
My opinion is that the second quarter of 2009 will have numbers more worth talking about. With the First-Time Homebuyer tax credit in play, and the busy rental renewal season of April, May, and June, I expect to see more buyers take advantage of the lower pricing, interest rates, and tax credit as opposed to riding it out one more year and making a commitment to another a long-term lease.
The real estate spring busy season also stirs competition among buyers. Sellers who brave the wild of an Alexandria VA buyers market may still have the luxury of cherry picking from multiple offers. If you find yourself in a multiple offer situation, here's how you can help nudge your offer out in front:
Earnest Money Deposit - There is no industry standard for how much an earnest money deposit has to be. A good rule of thumb is for it to be 1% of the sales price or higher. The higher your earnest money deposit, the more confidence the seller may have that you won't just walk away from a deal.
Financing - The market has successfully weeded out many bad (predatory) lenders, and others lending institutions have simply failed. Sellers and their listing agents are looking for a mortgage approval letter from a local, reputable lender stipulating the type of financing for which you've been approved.
Closing Date - If you're stretching your closing date beyond 45 or 60 days, that can actually force you out of the game. A buyer who can close quickly gives the seller the impression that financing is secure, and a firm commitment can be made and kept. Extended closing dates allow too much time for issues to arise that can affect financing, or other previously agreed upon terms of the contract.
Inspections - It's normal to have a home inspection in this market. You may put yourself ahead of the pack by completing a pre-contract inspection. Recently, one of my colleagues was one of 29 buyer contracts, and he WON because his buyers did a pre-contract inspection and only asked for certain things, as opposed to using the home inspection as another negotiating point in the sale. The seller was relieved because there was one less contingency, and repair requests were made up front and addressed with the offer.
Well, the list is over and did you notice that I didn't mention price? That's because price is not always the strongest term in a sales contract. For example, an offer that is $5,000 less than the asking price but the buyer is willing to close in three weeks, is more attractive than a full price offer with a 90-day closing.
In Alexandria Virginia, the spring real estate market is usually very competitive, especially in sought-after neighborhoods such as Old Town, Del Ray, Kingstowne, and Manchester Lakes. As your Realtor, you'll benefit from my twelve years of experience to help you successfully buy or sell a home in any market.