3 tips for buying real estate in a sellers’ market


Vancouver has a very strong sellers’ market at the moment. Houses (pretty much in every Vancouver neighbouhood) and condos in Downtown and the Olympic Village area are selling within days. Other Lower Mainland cities such as: Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, some parts of Richmond, some parts of Surrey (Fraser Valley), North and West Vancouver have incredibly strong sellers’ markets as well. It isn’t uncommon for properties to have multiple offers and to sell over the asking price.

Some people argue that Vancouver is a real estate bubble. I am not going to argue that point. Although, my personal opinion is that we aren’t in a housing bubble. In fact I believe that the market has still quite a bit of room to come up before a small correction. More on that subject in another blog post.

So what defies a strong sellers’ market? Basically, if the sales ration (number of properties sold vs the number of properties listings) is over 20% we have a sellers’ market. According to the latest real estate statistics current sales ratio in Greater Vancouver is around 31%. The are a lot of buyers on the market “fighting” over a limited number of available properties.

It is certainly very frustrating to be a buyer in such market conditions. All of the power is in the hands of sellers. Here are my top 3 tips on deal with sellers’ market (as a buyer):

  1. Find a good real estate agent. It is a good idea to have a real estate agent representing your interests in any market condition.  Sellers’ market makes working with a realtor much more important. Real estate agents have access to listings 2-3 days before general public.  A good real estate agent will be able to tell you how much the property is worth (it’s very easy to overpay in a sellers’ market). Most importantly a good realtor will be able to guide you though each offer presentation. Be prepared to “lose” some multiple offer “bidding wars”.
  2. Get pre-approved. I usually advice my clients not to get pre-approved. However, searching for properties in a sellers’ market with a mortgage pre-approval is a good idea. First off, you will know your exact budget. Being pre-approved takes away a certain amount of stress. And lastly, you could always play the “no subjects offer” card. Although, you should be very careful with strategy. Make sure to talk to your agent about making offers without subjects. If you don’t have an agent feel free to call me 604 565 7052.
  3. Look at as many properties as possible. In the sellers’ market there isn’t a lot of inventory to preview. That makes looking at as many properties as possible even more important. Looking at many different houses or condos will get you familiar with the market. It will also make you more confident about making an offer on the property that you do like.

I hope you find these tips useful in your home search. Drink a cup of tea, take a deep breath and relax. Buying a property is a little stressful, sellers’ market adds a little to that stress. Be prepared for multiple offers. Be prepared to make offers on multiple properties. And be prepared to let some properties go. It is all part of the real estate buying process.

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