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Salt lakes real estate

A real estate agent’s 8 tips for first-time buyers navigating a hot market

Photography by DP Productions/Getty Images

Cassidy Iwersen always dreamed of becoming a real estate agent. “I just felt like maybe New York wasn’t the place to start that kind of career,” she says. So when the longtime creative director and interior stylist moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2021 (one of the top destinations for people moving during the pandemic), she decided to take the plunge. , obtain its license and join Compass as a seller. agent. “I was gaga about what you could get for $500,000,” she recalled. Having lived in New York and San Francisco before that, he was a good kind of shock sticker.

While Iwersen works extensively with sellers, listing and staging their spaces, she has a soft spot for first-time buyers trying to navigate a booming market. “I feel like their big sister,” she says. “I want to help them, because it’s scary and overwhelming and there’s a lot [to do] in a short time. Her experience working in a highly visual and creative industry for so long comes in handy when it comes to helping nervous buyers see the potential. “Combining that with my knowledge of real estate, we’re able to make decisions that will save them money or make them money,” says Iwersen. Whether you’re cruising through booming Denver or planning to put down roots in bustling Salt Lake City, we asked Iwersen for his advice on getting through it all stress-free.

Consider living with—wait for it—a bathroom

Green bathtub in a brightly lit bathroom.

Photograph by Brittany Ambridge

We know what you’re thinking: a deal breaker. But let Iwersen help you see the potential. “A lot of older homes still only have one bathroom, which can deter a lot of buyers,” she notes. “But if you can live with that for a minute while you add a second, you’ve instantly increased the value and marketability the next time around.” Still, the thing to ask yourself before committing to a total renovation is: will the other homes in my neighborhood retain (or increase) in value over time? “It doesn’t matter how much you invest in a house if the neighboring houses aren’t as nice or worth as much,” Iwersen points out.

Speed ​​up your timeline from the start

Start looking at the market and getting to know the different neighborhoods so you can see what’s available in your price range and how long things come and go, that way you’ll be able to spot a bargain when you see it. “It will help you act quickly when you’re ready to make an offer,” says Iwersen. In very hot markets, there isn’t much time to research or ask about neighborhood, school district, or commute times after seeing an ad.

Be friendly with a trusted lender

In many of these booming markets where homes sell in about 20 days, it is often necessary for you to send a pre-qualification letter (a document that signifies that a lender has reviewed your financial information and confirms that you will be eligible for a loan) with your offer. “Now is not the time to start thinking about your mortgage. Vendors want to see that you’re ready to go and that everything is lined up and in order,” says Iwersen. Meeting with a local lender early on will help you determine your buying power, resolve any credit issues you may not be aware of, calculate your monthly mortgage payments, and get an idea of ​​how the process works. .

Look at ads that have been around for at least a week

Excellent listings ready to move into quick, so you’ll need to be imaginative and open to houses that might need painting or new lighting. “If you can look past the dated wallpaper or decor, you can potentially avoid a multiple-offer situation and even have some bargaining power,” Iwersen says. “I’m finally hearing about sellers giving buyers concessions or credits to help them lower their mortgage rate on properties that have been on the market for a while.”

Look for timeless architectural details

The details that make a house worth buying come down to the quality of the materials: hardwood floors, walls with trim or moldings, brick or plaster walls. “Like well-cut jeans or a leather jacket, these elements stand the test of time while gaining character and charm,” explains the pro.

Win an auction by making life easier for the seller

Your purchase price isn’t the only thing that can stand out in a bidding war. Forgoing contingencies and valuation, having the shortest possible option period, and offering to pay the seller’s title insurance (or investigation or closing costs) will put you in head of the group. “Sometimes it’s not just ‘the highest and the best,'” Iwersen says. “Maybe the seller needs a lease (time spent in the house after closing while he searches for his next home or extra time to pack or finish the school term), and if you can give him that extend, it could really be beneficial. ”

Offer money through a third party

There are a number of newer programs that have expanded this year in response to the increase in cash-only offers. Companies like Ribbon and UpEquity can work with (or act as one) your mortgage lender and present your cash offer. “They’re actually buying the house for you, and then you have some time to get financing and buy it back from them,” she says, noting that they’ll charge you a percentage of the purchase price to do so, but it might just be worth it.

Renovate intentionally

Part of the sense of belonging puts your stamp on your space. Luckily, if you’ve spent most of your savings on a down payment, less really is more. “By adding a few intentional updates, it distracts from a countertop or backsplash that might not have been your first choice,” she says. Here are some simple changes that Iwersen often recommends:

In the kitchen

  • Paint or stain existing cabinets
  • Change ceiling fans or light fixtures
  • Add a fresh sink and faucet
  • Put down carpets
  • Buy new appliances
  • Swap cabinet hardware
  • Hang the window treatments

In the bathroom

  • Change the vanity (some start at just a few hundred dollars!)
  • Hang a mirror above the sink
  • Wallpaper over dated tiling
  • Opt for white or matte black plumbing fixtures

And when in doubt, paint the walls white. “And the ceiling! says Iwersen.

Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion