Advice for first-time homebuyers

If you are in the market for your first home, these tips will help.
Photo by iStock

With predictions that the real estate market in West Michigan will remain strong going forward, first-time homebuyers will continue to face a competitive market. Local realtors say setting realistic expectations and preparing to submit an offer above asking price are two ways to improve your chances of scoring your first home.

Santiago Gomez Photo by Werner Straube

“We have a conversation with our first-time homebuyers to try and set expectations as best as possible,” said Santiago Gomez, realtor/broker at Santiago Properties. “It’s possible to find a home, but it will be extremely competitive and we will have to look at quite a few houses, put in a handful of offers before it happens.”

Due to most houses currently receiving multiple bids, Gomez said he encourages clients not to look at the top end of their budget, knowing they will likely have to increase their offer beyond the asking price to win the home.

“We tell them if they are approved for up to $250,000, we shouldn’t necessarily be looking at homes that are that price. … We look for homes that are below their max, that way we can be competitive with the offer.”

Gomez said looking at homes that have been sitting on the market rather than only focusing on new listings also can be helpful. “Going back to those that are overpriced or that have been sitting on the market for a while, the seller is happy to get an offer at that point.”

Walter Perschbacher Photo by Werner Straube

Gomez said he also encourages first-time homebuyers to consider homes that may only need cosmetic upgrades versus focusing exclusively on move-in ready properties. “There are things you can do after you move in that might allow you to get into the house you want and make it your home after you’re in it,” he said. “We look for homes needing cosmetic updates but that have a sound foundation, newer roof, mechanicals are great. It just might need some sprucing up here and there.”

Greenridge Realty Vice President Walter Perschbacher said another way for a first-time homebuyer to set themselves apart is to tailor the offer to the seller’s wants. “Price is usually king, but little details could set you apart: possession, type of financing, things staying with the house or not, size of earnest deposit. Different sellers have different hot buttons or things they put more weight toward.”

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