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House Hunting | Picking a House in a Sellers Market

Are you looking to sell your home and buy a new one like us? Checkout my house hunting tips for buying and selling in a seller’s market!

In spring and early summer of this year there were very few houses on the market and a lot of people wanting to buy them! We did not have the luxury of flexibility and needed to get relocated fast! While I had been working on getting our home on the market for months, check out more about that HERE, we knew that once our house was under contract, we would have to move very quickly to purchase a new one.

Although all of the relators would say that Zillow is always behind on posting new listings and then updating the status of those listings, we personally found that not to be the case. So long before we were ready to buy, we were keeping an eye on the availability of homes or lack of availability of homes, in Ankeny, Iowa.

So, I want to share with you our house hunting process and arm you with a few things to keep in mind!

Watch Our Evening of House Hunting

Tips for Selling Your Home

Declutter

I think I have said this in some way or another in every post I’ve done about moving, that is because it is SO darn important!! Not only does less stuff mean less for you to physically move, it dramatically increases the chances of selling your home quickly. Everyone has stuff, full storage rooms, junk drawers, it seems to just be a part of life, ESPECIALLY if you don’t do some yearly or bi-yearly purging. Yes, people call it spring cleaning for a reason. Parents get rid of things around Christmas, for a reason. That reason is to just simply stay on top of the task. If you aren’t regularly getting rid of things then you will soon be overwhelmed by things.

When you are selling your home, you want to give the impression to those looking at your house that there is plenty of storage space, closet space, kitchen cabinet space, garage space, etc. Having those spaces full of things you are storing does not accomplish that task. Displaying empty space does.

Even if you aren’t ready to part with things by throwing them away or donating them, you still need to get rid of excess. One way to do this, other than getting rid of it, is simply to pack it up! You are going to have to pack it to move it to your new home anyway, so why not pack it now so that you can sell your house quicker!!

Clean Your House

The less stuff you have makes this tip a lot easier too! You need to clean your house, every nook and cranny. A clean home feels, smells, and presents itself better. That helps you make a quicker sale for more money. If you don’t want to do it and you can’t get the kids to do it, hire someone! Paying them, even though it costs money, will still put more money in your pocket when your house sells.

Another reason to clean and declutter is because it gives the impression that you have been a good home owner. You’ve done routine maintenance and done repairs when needed. You’ve treated the house well which helps increase the lifespan of the home and equipment inside it. Those are things the new owner wants. No one wants to get into a house only to find out that it has been neglected and needs unexpected maintenance and repairs.

Turn On The Lights

Such a simple thing to do! Have a showing? Turn on all of the lights, both overhead lights and lamps! A well lit house shows better!

If you want to get crazy, switch out normal bulbs that have a yellowish tone and replace with LED daylight bulbs! We did on our house and they make such a difference in the look and feel of the home!

The other reason to have all of the lights on is so people can focus on the house and not spend a ton of time trying to figure out how to turn on all of the lights!

Staging

Don’t underestimate the power of hiring a professional stager. Especially if you don’t have a knack or knowledge of this.

When I lived in Kansas City, Missouri, I also was a realtor for a couple years and I used a stager frequently. It was very interesting to hear her tips for staging. Staging does not mean how you would actually live in a space. Staging is placing pieces so your home can look it’s best.

A couple things that stuck with me…

  • Remove ALL family photos from around the house – people need to look at the house not examine your family
  • Clear off the fridge – less clutter
  • Put a lamp in a dark corner of your kitchen counter
  • Situate furniture so you don’t open the front door and walk into the back of a chair or couch

Timing

If you have school age children, then you probably understand that timing a move when kids aren’t in school is much nicer than trying to move mid year. For that reason homes that go on the market in May seem to sell quickly. So if you can list your home at the end of the school year or beginning of summer break, then you are increasing your odds for a quick sale.

House Hunting Tips for Buying a Home

Get Pre-Approved

From a realtor and seller’s perspective, this should be a requirement for looking at a home. You need to know what you can ACTUALLY afford otherwise you are wasting people’s time. You also want to get pre-approved because you can have a lot faster closing if you have taken care of a lot of the paperwork upfront.

We only needed to borrow a small amount of money after using the proceeds from selling our home, yet we still started this pre-approval process long before we put our own home on the market.

Hubby and I laugh because the amount of paperwork needed for this mortgage was ridiculous when you took into account we could have went and purchased a brand new vehicle for the same amount in just a couple hours with minimal paperwork!

Narrow It Down

I’m sure many of us have watched House Hunters on HGTV or similar shows and the buyers are always so picky! When you buy a home you need to be realistic! Unless you have no budget, chances are you are going to have to make some sacrifices. So decide what truly are non-negotiables.

For us it really ended up being location. We wanted to be in the school district where Matt would be teaching AND as close to the school as possible. That really narrowed down our choices! We also wanted 4 bedrooms and something move in ready.

First Impression

We came up to house hunt one night after school after seeing a new listing pop up on Zillow. We called our realtor and asked him to line up anything on our list that wasn’t under contract. That was a short list.

With a limited amount of daylight, we didn’t dillydally. We walked in, did a lap, if it wasn’t the one, left. We looked at a new build, knew we didn’t like the builder’s quality and skipped over some others made by the same person. There was only one that we stayed in about 15 minutes and that was the one we ended up putting an offer in on!

With limited homes available, we had to make a quick decision and the sellers of the home we purchased did things right. They had decluttered, the fridge was clear of stuff, very few family photos were out, the house was clean and all of the lights were on.

Their display of pride of ownership was one of our deciding factors, that and location.

Tour the House We Picked

Timing

This tip was also on the sellers side, but that same knowledge of families looking to move during summer break applies for buyers too. There is a lot less competition if you can buy in late summer/early fall, with January being the cheapest month! If you are in Iowa, then it’s easy to understand why no one wants to move in the winter!

We Made An Offer

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that we would look at 5 or 6 houses in one evening and put an offer in on one of them! I never even opened the closet doors when we toured this home! It was a good house in my eyes and it was perfect in Matt’s. Since I don’t let him have his way very often, I decided to take the plunge and write an offer.

I honestly never even imagined that they would say yes! We had a contingent offer on our own house at this point and could only purchase this home with the proceeds of our own, so our offer, while full price was contingent. Remember at this point people were getting multiple offers, above asking price, etc. because there was such a housing shortage. But, they said yes.

No matter what house we picked the move was going to be very hard for me. But them accepting our offer and things seeming to fall into place over the next month, I figured it was meant to be.

Watch and read all about packing up the last week in our old house HERE.

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This post may contain affiliate links for the products I use and recommend. I am not paid to promote these products. If you purchase using my affiliate links, I could make a small commission at no charge to you.

2 thoughts on “House Hunting | Picking a House in a Sellers Market”

  1. Great tips. I moved for a divorce after 23 years in a house with 3 kids and a husband with multiple in complete projects. I hope I never move again. It was brutal gif many reasons but I love my much smaller home now. I am a parson who purges constantly. If it wasn’t used in the last year, it’s gone. Always a great feeling.

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