As soon as we accepted the offer on our house in College Station, we began hunting for a house in Austin. Little did we know that it wouldn’t be as easy as our last time house buying, no thanks to the Austin’s suddenly resurgent property market. After a tepid last four years in the real estate market, things started picking up. Our quick house sale should’ve been an indicator but apparently, Austin is on a whole different level.
Burned by the realtor’s ineptness during our last home purchase, we did some shopping around this time and met with at least 3 realtors. One didn’t actually operate in the part of Austin we wanted to buy in, the other came across as too busy and forceful, so we finally settled on a local realty firm with an established presence both offline and online. The realtor quickly set us up with an online search of the MLS with our criteria as filters so that we would get an email as soon as a house that fit our criteria hit the market. The ‘as soon as’ part is important because the market was heating up and as we later found out, homes were being snapped up within days. In some neighborhoods that eventually turned out to be out of reach, not because of the price but simply because the sellers were inundated with offers often with a cash component. We couldn’t possible compete with a part-cash offer since we were going to finance our entire loan (we don’t have 20% or at least $40-60K lying around).
Couple of homes we saw, liked, and considered making an offer already had offers pending. The seller’s realtor was in fact, collecting offers that the owners would then sift through. This is not typical since buyers are often lucky to get an offer within days of listing and then have to negotiate quickly to avoid scaring off the buyers. But this was a whole different ball game, according to our realtor and very unusual. It was a seller’s market which proved beneficial to us while selling but was now biting us when we were on the other side. It can be extremely difficult to get attached to a house enough to make an offer and then get turned down. You have to begin your search all over again and may have potentially lost out on other homes in the meantime.
So we made a decision and expanded our search to other neighborhoods which were equally good but were often ignored by the madding crowd of buyers. Luckily, after a short search, we found an excellent home that had been on the market for 7 days and hadn’t received an offer yet. Ironically, that made us a little uneasy but the realtor expressed confidence and assured us that we’ll have enough opportunities by the way of home inspection and appraisal to get a fair assessment. So we decided to make an offer…$900 more than the list price.
How it all turned out is a post by itself and gave us numerous sleepless nights mostly due to ineptness of other people involved in the process. We did end up buying the house and are currently living in it so there is no unfortunate twist in the end. More on the process later.