As I sit here counseling my buyer clients through this home inspection, it occurs to me that there’s an opportunity to explain how we got to this point. Because this is common. And it will become more prevalent in the Spring Markets when listings move so fast that you don’t get a second chance.
My clients are a couple returning to the United States after several years in Belize. They’re familiar with the DMV area and they have family scattered around Northern Virginia but they haven’t bought a home in over 20 years. We’ve been emailing back and forth over the past few months, watching listings and setting aside neighborhoods that they’d like to consider. Arriving last week, I had set aside 8 properties in Fairfax that I thought would be a good fit. As of Saturday morning, 3 of those 8 had already gone under contract. This is really unusual for a December market. I can understand the older inventory being absorbed because sellers are frustrated, desperate and ready to be done – rock bottom prices designed for bottom-feeding investors. But if a seller approached me about listing in December and wasn’t desperate to sell fast, I’d advise waiting until February/March when sellers historically have a much better opportunity to get fast sales with balanced terms. Best market of the year in my opinion.
So why are sellers listing their homes in December??
Truthfully, I don’t know. What I have is buyers. After spending several days in Fairfax, Falls Church, Annandale and Alexandria, my clients and I have encountered several listings that were sold before we even toured. Properties that were still listed as active, agents that hadn’t even changed the status. So frustrating. So the clients ask me – they’re heading back to Belize this weekend, what are they supposed to do?
Meet the 5-minute boyfriend. Hang in there with me, this is all going to make sense. I hope. When I was in high school, there was a guy I thought would make pretty boyfriend material. Driving around with him one afternoon (ahem, after band practice), we hit a red light and he asks me out. “You know I think you’re awesome, we should go out.” Like, totally. So I did the cool girlfriend thing and I was, like, yeah, whatever, it’s cool. I accept. It’s on. And we keep driving. Then at the second red light, we make out. Passionate, “gropey” high school make out sesh. And it was awful. I mean shockingly bad. By the third red light, I dumped him. I know. I’m the worst. But it felt so wrong. Worse than Luke and Leia, just wrong.
How does this relate? Buyers go through this emotional roller coaster. So I use this as an example to help focus on your options when you feel like you’re missing out on a good opportunity. When buyers find hot properties that they think might be the home of their dreams, I advise them to just go for it. You need to write the offer, do whatever it takes to get it accepted and get it off the market. Now, no one else can consider it. Then go sleep on it. Think about it. If you feel that gut-wrenching “I just kissed my cousin” feeling, then it was a mistake. This is ok. This happens. So frequently in fact, they call it “Buyer’s Remorse”. Cancel the contract. Everyone understands. No harm, no foul, no penalty – you just wanted to know what it felt like and now you know.
The alternative is missing out. Watching that dream home go to someone else that jumped before you did. Characteristically I’m an aggressive agent and that means giving you the opportunity to consider it before any one else, then making an offer that the seller can’t refuse. In the case that it does get competitive, I’ll work to make sure you have the final say – not the seller. But that’s a post for another day.