The Whistler real estate market is always in flux, and that makes it nearly impossible to predict if the market will favour sellers or buyers when you're getting ready to buy. If you’re shopping for real estate in Whistler, BC, or any market that's tilted towards sellers right now, you need expert advice so you don’t make a single mistake. When you're a buyer in a seller’s market you can get what you want, but you need to bring out the big guns. If you don't, you WILL lose. Here are five common mistakes many Whistler home buyers make — mistakes that you can learn to avoid — when shopping in a seller’s market.
1. Not making your best offer
The drive to buy what we want for as little money as possible is ingrained in us. When people see the list price of a home, they always wonder what they can really get the house for. Offering lower than the asking price is a perfectly sound strategy in many market situations, such as if the house is wildly overpriced compared with other similar homes in the area, or if it’s a buyer’s market with plenty of available inventory. But trying to get a screaming deal when you’re in a seller’s market just isn't going to fly. “In a seller’s market, many buyers do not step up with a strong enough offer,” says Dean Linnell, a Whistler realtor. “There's currently very low inventory in Whistler, and the competition from other buyers is fierce. I always encourage a buyer to come in with their strongest starting offer.”
2. Waiting too long to put in an offer
Just as impulse-buying a Whistler property is risky, analyzing a Whistler home purchase to death in a seller’s market is inadvisable too. When you wait too long, “You are at high risk of losing the property you've fallen in love with,” says Linnell. Once you’ve determined the type of home you want, the location you desire, and your price range, and finally find a home that meets your qualifications, make an offer. To give yourself more leverage, be prepared to make a quick offer by having your finances in order — get a preapproval if you can. “Know how much you can truly afford, have your down payment in hand, and delay other major purchases” says Pat Kelly, president of The Whistler Real Estate Company.
3. Not working with a local Whistler agent
In a seller’s market, it benefits buyers to get all the help they can. If you have a highly experienced local realtor on your side, you’ll probably have a better chance of getting the Whistler property you want. Don't forget, in most cases, buyers don’t pay the realtor's fees; sellers do. “If you're competing against other purchasers in a fast-moving market, it's critical to be ‘offer-ready,’” says David Higgins, managing broker of The Whistler Real Estate Company. “Also, working with a local Whistler real estate professional saves tons of time and stress, as they know the unique ins and outs of the Whistler home buying process and can provide tremendous insight regarding upcoming inventory.”
4. Not being pre-approved for a mortgage
You might know that you’ll be approved for a mortgage loan based on your steady income, your low debt-to-income ratio, and your high credit score — but the seller probably doesn’t know that. The only way to prove to the seller that you’re a qualified buyer is to be preapproved from a lender who's familiar with Whistler. Preapproval is absolutely paramount. A buyer has no advantage if they do not have either the cash to purchase without a mortgage or if needed haven’t taken the time to speak with a lender. Not getting pre-approved sends a message to the seller that the you're not serious.
The pre-approval process involves submitting a mortgage application, complete with supplying verifying documents to either the bank or your mortgage broker. “Preapproval from a great mortgage broker is key. Presenting this shows the seller that the buyer has already set the wheels in motion and is serious about making the deal a reality" says Annie de la Chevrotiere with Peak to Peak Mortgage.
5. Not being prepared for a bidding war
If there is ever a time when a bidding war could be imminent, it’s during a seller’s market. No buyer wants to be involved in such a battle for fear of possibly going over budget. But realtor Dean Linnell presents this solution for buyers: “Set your search below your max budget to leave room in case of an over-asking bidding war.”
BONUS PRO TIP - Learn from your mistakes!
There’s absolutely no shame when you discover that your offer has been rejected. However, it’s common to get frustrated if your offers continue to be rejected constantly. Learn from your previous offers, be smart and wise up so you can snag the house you want next time around. Buying a house really is a lot like dating. “You may have to let a few good ones slip through your net, have a couple sleepless nights over it, and then come back with serious intent to lock up the next great buy you find.”