Strong demand and low inventory of homes, while pushing up real estate prices in Connecticut and across the country, are also prompting potential buyers to be more informed and more patient.
Leticia Rodríguez, a real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty in Wallingford, said with rising prices and growing competition, homebuyers should be prepared for a potentially lengthy process.
According to the SmartMLS listing service, for the month of February Connecticut home buyers paid 1.5% more than the list price for a single-family home. Year-to-date, owners have paid 2.5% more than the listed price.
For the month of February in Wallingford, buyers paid an average of 4.1% more than the list price. Since the beginning of the year, they have paid 3.5% more.
A limited inventory can defy a buyer’s expectations.
“I remember about two weeks ago there was only one house on the market in Wallingford,” Rodríguez said. “It got to the point where individual tours couldn’t be done and it had to be an open house.”
New Britain resident Catalina Salazar recently bought a house with Rodríguez’s help. At first, she was looking for a house in Meriden, but the prices advertised were high and did not match the quality she was looking for. Then, in New Britain, Salazar was shown three houses.
Being open-minded when looking for a home is crucial because it can be a long wait for something to hit the market. “I wasn’t even thinking about moving anywhere else next to Meriden,” Salazar said.
When Salazar went to see her current home, her visit must have been short as someone else was scheduled right after her. “We had to make an offer on the house quickly,” Salazar said. “We must have exceeded the listed price because we knew there would be other offers on this house.”
Before, estate agents could try to negotiate a lower price for their clients, said Gricelda Ávila, an agent at Harriman Real Estate in Wallingford.
“Before, I was able to help my clients buy their homes at a lower price, but now that’s not even an option,” Ávila said. “Now you have to consider that you might have to bid higher than the quoted price.”
“Having trust with your real estate agent is important when buying a home,” Ávila said.
Ávila, who speaks Spanish, mentioned that about 99% of her customers speak Spanish.
“Sometimes you’re dealing with documents and paperwork that you might not understand,” Ávila said. “And it’s important that they trust that you’re giving them the right information.”
Rodríguez, who also speaks Spanish, estimates that 90% of his clientele is Spanish-speaking. She agrees with Avila on the importance of communication in establishing a connection.
“I sometimes have people buying a house for the first time,” Rodríguez said. “And some have just arrived from their home country and don’t speak much English. I want to help guide them in the right direction.
Rodríguez said some clients underestimate the importance of a home inspection, which allows potential buyers to “know in advance and not have any surprises once you move in.”
Often the inspection comes with the price of the house but sometimes the sellers don’t offer it.
It’s best to make this a requirement before buying, as unexpected problems, such as plumbing problems, pest infestations, hidden mold and failing heating systems, can arise and cost hundreds or even dollars. thousands of dollars, Rodriguez said.
When buying a home, having good credit is the most important thing at the start of the process. Ensuring that payments were paid on time over the past 12 months is critical, because each time a payment is missed, the 12-month cycle to rebuild credit begins again, Rodríguez noted.
Also, making large purchases or taking out other loans before the closing date may cause the lender or the bank to change the loan amount. Buying a car is a common mistake people make when buying a home.
“A lot of people think the bank won’t know,” Rodríguez said. “But just before you get your keys, the bank will do a final credit check to make sure no major purchases have been made.”
Big purchases have to wait after the house closes.
“Even buying items from Home Depot can potentially cause you to lose the house. Let’s say you bought flooring and other items for a renovation that cost $10,000 and you used your credit card. Now the bank thinks you won’t be able to make the payments because you have that credit card to pay,” Rodríguez said.
She remembers once when this happened to one of her clients.
“We were all ready to leave, then I got a call saying they had bought a car,” Rodríguez said. “It was a shame because they were super excited to find this house and now they had to keep looking.”