For Sale by Owner Guide
Guide for BuyersSee all Buyer Guide topics
Know the Market
Understand whether you are buying in a buyer's or seller's market.
A buyer's market is when there are more houses on the market than there are buyers, houses are selling very slowly, and sometimes the sales prices of houses are being lowered by sellers in an attempt to sell them more quickly.
A seller's market (also called a "hot" market) is indicated when there aren't enough houses for sale to meet buyer demand, houses are selling fast, and buyers are competing for houses by offering over the asking price (and driving the price up).
Research Local Real Estate
If you are in a seller's market - get a pre-approved mortgage. This is good strategy in any market, but if your offer has to compete with other offers, it gives you strength.
Start reading the real estate section of your local newspaper a couple of months before you buy. If you have not been reading the real estate section, go to the library and read the last few weeks. This will make you more familiar with the market.
If it's a buyer's market, you can be more leisurely in your search and negotiate price and terms. If it's a seller's market, you should be prepared to make a quick offer, expect to compete for the house, and probably have to pay close to or even slightly over list price.