Every time I go out with my buyers in our Lake Norman area I gain some knowledge about the dynamics of our market that can’t be acquired merely by looking at our Lake Norman housing statistics and reading the myriad real estate articles in the news. Now more than ever real estate is very very local. My insights about the Lake Norman real estate market may not even apply to Charlotte!
If you are serious about buying a home in Lake Norman this spring here are my recommendations:
Get pre-approved for a loan AND then keep in touch with your lender on a weekly basis. Right now the lending market is so erratic that you can not count on last month’s pre-approval. I had buyers completely pre-approved but when they finally were ready to write up their offer the lender told them they could no longer get a loan, period. The rules changed, not their excellent credit or down payment.
Know your priorities and goals and stick to them. There are so many homes for sale in the Lake Norman area that buyers have almost too many to choose from. It is easy to get side tracked which leads to more confusion and frustration. Stay focused!
Look at homes that are priced 10% or more above your intended purchase price. I can’t tell you how many sellers, including my own, are afraid to lower their prices but keep asking why they haven’t gotten any offers and insisting that if they had an offer they would work with the buyers. They might ultimately reduce their price lower than you might expect. You may miss your perfect home that is simply overpriced if you don’t stretch your price-range.
Don’t be afraid to make a low offer! This goes along with the idea of looking at higher-priced homes. As a buyer you probably know the market better than the sellers since you are out there looking at active listings. While there are times the seller will simply not respond, if they have a good agent they will counter with something just to keep the dialog going.
Before making your final decision/offer, ask your agent to provide you with:
- An MLS archive search of your favorite homes: This will tell you exactly how long the property has actually been on the market as well as how many times it has been reduced and/or expired and re-listed. The most recent MLS data might say 100 days on the market when in fact it has listed for well over a year.
- Tax records: When did the sellers purchase their home and for how much. Right now in many Lake Norman neighborhoods prices are back down to 2004/2005 prices so if the home was purchased more recently chances are the sellers are going to have to take a loss.
- A comparative market analysis: Learn everything you can about the recent sales and current active listings that an appraiser will use to help you decide your purchase price. If there are one or two low sales or active listings these will greatly impact the value of the other homes in the neighborhood. Lenders are so conservative right now that they are even doing second appraisals just before closing. Our prices are trending downward. Lenders are very difficult to work with under the best of circumstances but if your purchase price is a bit high it is most likely that you won’t be able to get the loan.
Finally, keep up with the financial news. The newly passed Stimulis Bill includes an $8,000 tax credit (that does NOT have to be repaid) for first-time home buyers. There are discussions about further efforts to bring mortgage interest rates down and other tools to revive our lagging national housing market.
Be smart and you will be successful!