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    Houses are selling at their fastest pace in two years, according to Zillow, with the average home going under contract in just 19 days. 

    The speed is thanks largely to a shortage of housing inventory across the country — one that COVID-19 and its associated health concerns have only deepened.

    For sellers, it’s good news, signaling easy, fast sales and plenty of potential profits. For buyers, on the other hand, it means time is of the essence. 

    Acting quickly is key.

    With homes selling this fast, buyers don’t have time to dawdle. If you want to snag that dream home, speed is critical — and a competitive offer even more so.

    Want to ensure that perfect house doesn’t slip through your fingers? Make sure you follow these tips:

    Have a clear picture of what you want.

    Talk with your spouse or co-buyer long before beginning your home search, and nail down the exact specs of what you’re looking for. The more detailed you can be with your criteria, the more efficient your home search will be. It will also help you when setting up listing alerts (which we’ll talk about in a second). 

    You also need to have a clear idea of what you can afford and what price range you should be shopping in. Keep in mind that property taxes will factor into your mortgage payment, too, so you can use this to set your home shopping criteria as well (i.e. don’t shop in the city’s highest-property tax neighborhood if you’re on a tight budget!)

    Get an agent on your side — and make sure they have time for you.

    Having an agent is always a smart move, but they’re especially helpful in a competitive market. The important thing is you pick yours carefully. With so many buyers on the market, many agents are brimming with business. While that’s certainly good for their bottom lines, it also means they’re spread thin and may not have too much time for you.

    Since timing is so important in today’s market, it’s critical you choose an agent who will be responsive, fast on the draw, and available. If they’re not, it could mean losing out on that dream home — no matter how fast you found it.

    Keep a pulse on local listings.

    Listings are going up constantly, and if you don’t want to miss out on the best ones, you’ll need to stay on top of them. Sign up for text and email alerts from all the major listing platforms — Zillow, Trulia,,, and more, and download the corresponding apps for these platforms, too. Many offer push alerts that can instantly notify you when a home goes live.  

    You should also talk to your agent about configuring some custom alerts, too. They may be able to set up filtered MLS updates that notify you when a new listing meets your criteria.

    Be fast — and flexible — about showings.

    Once a listing goes up that you like, you’ll need to pull the trigger on a showing fast. That means calling your agent (or the listing agent), and getting on the schedule that day or, at the very least, the next morning.

    If you’re worried about COVID-19 exposure or just don’t have much room on your schedule, ask about virtual tours. Many agents are now offering these during the pandemic, and they’re a great way to tour a home on the fly and from off-site. Best of all, you can usually do them quicker than an in-person one (maybe on your lunch break?)

    Have your loan lined up and ready.

    Sellers aren’t going to wait around forever for a buyer — especially if there are 10 others waiting in the wings. To make sure your offer goes to the top of the pile, always come ready with a mortgage preapproval in hand. Include your preapproval letter in any offers you make and show sellers you’re a safe bet to go through with the purchase.

    With some lenders, you can even get a fully underwritten preapproval on your loan. This can give sellers even more confidence in your offer and help you stand out from other buyers.

    The bottom line

    Today’s home buying market is a competitive one. If you’re on the hunt for that dream home, it’s important that you’re well-prepared and ready to act fast. Set up detailed listing alerts, get a real estate agent on your side, and be crystal clear on what it is you’re looking for. After that, make sure you have a preapproval in hand, and you’re well on your way to homeownership.

    Need more help traversing today’s market? Get in touch with an Embrace Home Loans mortgage specialist today.

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