Buying a Home in Kitsap County WA | Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid
The housing market has been a whirlwind these past few years - everything we thought we knew about buying a home in Kitsap County, Washington, has changed.
The demand for homes in the area has always been high, but it has never been higher than it has been over the past year, with record lows of homes on the market for all these hungry buyers to get their hands on. The result?
Numerous buyers are competing for every home and buyers are offering tens of thousands of dollars over the appraisal price in an effort to secure the home they want. With all the craziness, it’s easy to get swept up and carried away and make mistakes you could have avoided if you’d considered them before you jumped in with both feet.
To ensure you don’t make a mistake that costs you your dream home or cash that could have been spent better elsewhere, I’m going to share with you the top 5 home buyer mistakes you should avoid if you’re looking to move to Kitsap County and the surrounding area.
Top 5 Home Buyer Mistakes to Avoid in Kitsap County, WA
1) Trying to Go It Alone
… That’s without a realtor. Now, before you roll your eyes and click off to another page or scroll down, hear me out. The market here in Kitsap County is unlike anything we (yes, including me!) have seen before. Even in an area as popular as Kitsap County and Western Washington, the market has not been this crazy before. There are not enough houses becoming available to meet buyer demand, and this is pushing buyers to make decisions people would have once said were unnecessary and a bad idea.
Trying to find your way in this market isn’t easy, and you need a realtor to guide you through. You deserve to access all the best resources and information available, and you definitely deserve to access the best homes available for your price range.
Going it alone means you won’t have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening here, especially if you’re not local, and by the time you see something and make a move, you may be too late. Most realtors won’t say this, but you’d be surprised how many homes are selling without ever reaching the open market on sites like Zillow, Realtor, and Trulia. It’s a lot.
You need someone on your side who is in this world full-time - without an advocate, you’re going to feel like you’re on a boat with one oar, while those with a realtor have an outboard motor. A realtor can help you find the houses that are available, help you make the right offers, and know when you should hit the gas pedal or pump the breaks.
Buying a new home is a big commitment, but the market here means you have to make decisions on the spot. You need a professional to ensure you don’t make a mistake you later regret or end up spinning your wheels for so long that you miss out on homes you would have loved.
2. Jumping into Buying Last Minute
I work with people who want to find a home, sell theirs, and move into their new home within a 30-day time frame or so. That’s breakneck speed to go from zero to making multiple offers, and it can feel like you have whiplash by the time all is said and done. It can be done, but it’s best not to.
Sometimes, you can’t avoid the need to move suddenly, but if you can, start thinking about your move as soon as you can. I’m currently working with clients I first started talking to a full 12 months ago, and I always recommend you reach out to me if you are going to be buying within that time frame.
When we start developing a relationship now, both you and I will be ready to hit the ground running when it’s finally time to start making offers. You’ll have a plan in place to execute, and you and I will know with certainty what you’re looking for and what compromises can and can’t be made.
The clients I’m working with now that reached out early in the process are those that feel the most cool, calm, and collected when it comes to house hunting.
3. Allowing FOMO to Get the Better of You
FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. FOMO is a very real thing and almost everyone has it when they are getting ready to buy in Kitsap County or other areas of Western Washington. It usually starts a few weeks before you’re ready to officially start your search for a new home - it’s when you’re looking at what’s selling on the market but haven’t put your home on the market yet, or haven’t yet got preapproval for your loan.
FOMO is even stronger for anyone looking to move into the area from out-of-state, as they often book their flights to look at homes and then have to sit on their hands until they get out here.
The thing is, it’s during these weeks that you’ll start spending all your time looking at what’s coming onto the market and how quickly it’s going under contract. You’ll check your phone, see that something has gone on, and then see that it’s under contract just hours or a few days later. Suddenly, you realize how fast the market is moving and how every house on the market is one you would have wanted to look at and you’re missing out on.
These houses are suddenly just the right size, price, area, close to the amenities you want - but you’ve got to slow down. This happens all the time, so take a deep breath and understand that new houses will come on the market. The houses that are on the market now are not the only ones that will be available. Feel the FOMO, but do not throw all your plans out the window because you’re not moving fast enough.
You’re right on time.
You will not regret sticking to your plan - the right home will be there when you’re ready to buy.
4. Choosing a Lender Based Purely on Price
From my point of view, this one is as important as our first point because it’s all about making sure you have the right people on your team. If you’re a cash-buyer, stick with us here - because cash is not always king at the moment. I told you this market is different, and it’s true. The market is fast, and sellers likely won’t accept a cash offer over a better one from a buyer with preapproval.
Here’s how listing agents advise their clients to think: they’re not just looking at the numbers - this isn’t eBay, and the highest bid won’t always win. Listing agents are also talking to their clients about who the lender is and how confident they can be that the lender will make sure they close on time, with clear, timely communication, and the least amount of stress for the seller.
If the listing agent isn’t familiar with the lender, they will likely call them to speak to them and see how strong the approval is. If the lender doesn’t give the agent a strong sense that everything will run smoothly, your offer is probably not getting accepted.
When you’re looking for a lender, consider:
● Will they give you a cell phone number?
● Can you talk to them after 6pm or on weekends?
● Can they give you a few different financing scenarios to make you more competitive?
● Will they call the listing agent (or at least be prepared to take a call from them) to convince them you’re a strong buyer?
Of course, you need to take this into consideration with the usual things you need to think about when getting a mortgage, but these are the things that will get you through the front door of your dream home with your boxes.
If you’re not sure who to go with, feel free to reach out to me. You’re totally free to choose the mortgage that is right for you, but I’ve partnered with some amazing lenders that are local and understand the market, so I can help point you in the right direction.
5. Playing Games
Remember the days when you’d put in an offer lower than the asking price and be willing to negotiate it closer to the asking price? Forget it - this market means that you’ve got one shot to make your best offer, and it’s an auction, not a sale.
I get it: you want a deal. But the market will determine the price you need to pay, and your goalpost is getting a seller to say yes to your offer, not to negotiate the best deal you can. You may not like this, but it’s the way it is. You need to offer the most you can - the number where if you get the house, you don’t worry you overpaid when you’re going to sleep at night.
By using this strategy, you’ll either be happy because you paid a figure you are happy with, or you walked away knowing you wouldn’t have felt good about buying it for what another buyer was willing to pay. There will be something just as, if not more, amazing right around the corner.
If you’re looking to move to Kitsap County, Washington, you need a realtor on your side to help you keep up with the fast pace out here and ensure you don’t make a mistake you later regret.
You can reach out to me at any time via a phone call, email, text message - you can even send the seahawk! - I’m always happy to answer your questions and help you move to or sell in Western Washington. If you’re thinking of moving to Western Washington at any time in the next 12 months, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can find my contact information here.