Not long ago, a prospective home buyer who had no property to sell and who was financially-qualified was in the driver's seat. They had numerous properties from which to choose and most sellers were highly motivated.
No longer. Now when a nice property comes on the market, especially if it is not a short sale or bank-owned, there are frequently multiple offers and it often sells above the asking price.
If you want to purchase a home, you need anticipate that other buyers may be interested in the same property that you are. So how can you compete?
First, you should get your ducks lined up so you can make as clean an offer as possible. If you need to sell your current property so you can make a non-contingent offer, then get you property at least into escrow before you start seriously house shopping.
Unless you are a cash buyer, you will need to get a mortgage to buy your new home. It is essential that you be preapproved for a loan in advance so you can prove to the seller at the time you make an offer that financing will not be a problem.
Then, when you find a property that you really want, you should make the strongest offer that you can. Everyone wants to feel they got a bargain on the house they buy. But, considering that we are still near the bottom of the real estate market, you are probably getting a very good deal even if you pay a little more than the list price.
And if you make your best offer and still don't get it, at least you can take comfort that the buyer paid more than you were willing to pay.
Finally, you need to be patient. You will need to look at everything that matches your criteria as soon as it hits the market. If you like it, get your offer in immediately. You may even have to make offers on multiple properties at the same time.
This feeding frenzy atmosphere may make you feel uncomfortable and therefore hesitant to jump into the market. However, I think what is happening is many buyers and investors recognize that the market has bottomed out and they are trying to make their purchases before prices go up substantially.
Just remember, right now there are more willing, qualified buyers out there than there are good properties. And not everybody is going to get one.