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First-time homebuyers: How to make offers stand out

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2011, file photo, a house is for rent an for sale in Portland, Ore. Experts say owning rental housing can pay off even as market recovers. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY – Rising prices and cash offers are making it extremely hard for first-time homebuyers to have their offers considered.  However, realtors said there are ways for these buyers to have their offers stand out, and they don’t always involve paying thousands of dollars extra.

Housing market analysts said it’s not uncommon for a seller to get dozens of offers on their homes.  One realtor recently told KSL he knows of one home that had 90 offers.  Tara Paras with Paras Real Estate says it’s not impossible for these buyers to find a place, even though the markets has become extremely competitive.

Paras said, “You used to be able to find a single-family home or a townhouse in a new construction community where you wouldn’t be competing with as many offers.”

She said the key is to focus on what the seller needs, and not all of them need a cash payment up front.

Get pre-approved for a loan

With so many offers on each home, Paras said first-time homebuyers need speed on their side.  She suggests people get pre-approved so lenders can move forward with an offer as quickly as possible.  Paras says sellers still have to go through certain processes, like getting a home inspection and preparing their disclosure reports, and they don’t want the process to be dragged out.

“I had a lender tell me, yesterday, ‘I tell my buyers that if I ask them for something, I need it within 24 hours so we don’t have any delays on their loan.’”

Don’t rush the sellers out of their home

If the sale goes through, the seller will then become a buyer looking for a new place to live.  However, Paras said they likely won’t want to be rushed into making a purchase.  She believes sellers may be enticed to an offer that gives them more time to finish that process.

Paras said, “Maybe they need more time in the house.  The seller needs more time to live there until they find a home.  It’s not always about cash.”

Look at the homes that have been for sale for longer

Some homes may be overlooked by buyers if they’ve been on the market for a long time.  Paras said, usually, when a house isn’t selling, most people would assume something is wrong with it.  However, this might not be the case. 

“They might be worth looking into.  Maybe [the seller] started too high and I could offer less and compete with less buyers.”

Paras said some sellers ask for too much, at first, but the longer a house stays on the market, the more likely it is to convince the seller to lower the price.


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