If it's taking you years to buy a house - it's time to rethink things

Washington DC continues to have a strong sellers market and proves to be a challenge for buyers.  Although I am seeing a few signs of cooling down, I believe much of the slow-down is seasonally related. Summer is slower as many folks are heading on vacation or trying to beat the humid 90 degree days anyway they can.

The strong sellers market can be a drain on buyers who have yet to find the "right house" to buy.  Some buyers I have spoken with have been looking for many months; some "for years".  When I hear this I know there is a problem; and it probably is all about expectation.

In today's world we are constantly reminded from TV and movies that we should have that amazing space with tons of windows; that amazing kitchen with over-sized (and over-priced) appliances and all the furniture - right from the Pottery Barn catalog.  Yes; thank you HGTV - but that is not reality.

Buyers (especially 1st time buyers), need to understand this is your 1st or next home - not your last home.  Your 1st place WON'T have everything you want - unless your grandfather has a last name like Buffett or Gates.


If you have been looking for years; or even months - then it's to re-evaluate things.  


-Are you really ready to buy?   It's OK if you are not. Is someone pressuring you to do so?  This is about you - not them.

-Have you made a list?  You need to make a list of "Must Haves" and "Like to Haves".   The must haves should include only "the MUSTS".

-Now - do you REALLY need the "MUSTS"?  When I 1st moved into DC - I HAD TO HAVE a 2nd bedroom.  Well guess what; I didn't need it.  I took "2nd bedroom" off the MUST HAVE list; bought a place and enjoyed it for 5 1/2 years. Now my next place in DC has the 2nd bedroom (and I barely ever use it - can you say waste of money?).

-How are you going to use the space?  If you are going to raise 3 kids in the home; then think along those lines. Of course if you are single with no kids and only plans on a family - let's consider a 1 bedroom condo until your soul-mate finds you.  If you work 50 hours a week and eat Chinese food 4 times a week; maybe the giant kitchen with the subzero fridge isn't a priority.  If you only drive your car on Sundays to go to Costco - forget the car and the parking space and use zipcar/car2go/etc.

- Are you waiting for prices to increase more or interest rates to increase?  Notice I didn't say  wait for these things to go down?  Because they aren't going to. At least not anytime soon.  Prices continually to increase in our market and interest rates have been so low; there is only up.  In fact last week we had a client with about a 350k loan and a small rate jump happened; which increased their monthly payment by $100.  The longer you wait - the fewer options you will have.


If you truly want to buy something and have been looking for more than a few months - then it's time to really sit down with a professional who can help talk you through the process and review the "MUST HAVES" and "LIKE to HAVES".  Many times it is as simple as looking in a different part of town or give up the 2nd car or the 3rd bedroom or bath.

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Contact James Downing of the MetroDCHouses Team, if you are selling, buying or have questions!

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Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

James - motivation is an important factor for buyers as well.  Out-of-town buyers must make a quick decision, those moving across town tend to want to see everything and then miss out because they keep waiting for the "perfect" one.

Jul 14, 2014 11:01 PM #1
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James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes

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