As prospective homebuyers in Oregon and Southwest Washington continue to face fierce competition for fewer and increasingly expensive homes, OnPoint Community Credit Union offers tips on how to successfully purchase a home in this red-hot market. According to data released by the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Index this week, one of the leading trackers of the housing market, home prices across the nation have increased by 19.8% since August 2020, the name number reported the previous month. Demand for the shrinking number of new and existing homes also remains high, with the inventory of homes for sale in Oregon still at a little more than one month of inventory, according to the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS). To put it into perspective, the housing market is considered balanced when there are four to six months of inventory.
“The surge in home prices and historic shortage of new and existing homes is resulting in bidding wars and offers significantly over the original asking price,” said Andrew Emerson, vice president/Mortgage, OnPoint Community Credit Union. “While this market can be overwhelming and even intimidating, the good news is there are proactive steps you can take to ensure the best possible outcome.”
Below are seven strategies OnPoint recommends for homebuyers in a competitive market:
Understand your financial outlook
As you educate yourself about the homebuying process, develop your understanding of your financial outlook. Start by creating or updating your budget to understand where you are spending your money and how much you can spend while still saving for the future. Outlining your situation in this way will uncover any issues like a low credit score or a high debt-to-income ratio that could affect your ability to purchase a new home. If you need to make adjustments, work with your financial institution to create a plan to improve credit scores, pay down debt and build up savings.
Also, ask your financial institution for educational resources like OnPoint’s Balance program, which provides members with free access to confidential, no-cost one-on-one financial counseling, help working with creditors to develop a repayment plan and money management webinars, articles, financial calculators, checklists, quizzes and more.
Educate yourself about the market and the process
The current environment was created by many factors, including low interest rates, the unusually low home prices in Oregon compared to others on the West Coast, delays in new construction, rent increases and existing homeowners not selling, among many others. Check out sites like Zillow.com or Redfin.com for more information on home prices and inventory. Talk with your realtor or mortgage loan officer about resources they can share to help you stay up to date.
Educating yourself about the process, the impact of credit scores and debt-to-income ratios and how interest rates work can build confidence through the homebuying process.
Define your goals
Before you begin touring properties, list your must-haves, nice-to-haves and don’t-needs for your next home. Once you have a clear picture of where you are financially, determine the maximum amount of money you are comfortable spending on a down payment, closing costs and monthly mortgage payments. Each time you find a property you are interested in, revisit that number to ensure it is within your budget and meets your needs.
Find the right lender
Purchasing a home in this housing market can be a daunting process, so it’s important to find a mortgage lender you trust. With such a competitive market, many new mortgage lenders are offering their services to the community. Don’t be afraid to shop around, bring in cost worksheets from other lenders and ask that they conduct a thorough pre-approval process and respond quickly to inquiries. Their performance could be the difference between whether your offer is accepted or not.
Equip yourself with a pre-approval letter
One of the best ways to stay ahead of your competition is to obtain a pre-approval letter from your mortgage lender. As listing agents go through multiple offers, verifying your financial picture up front can save them time and effort and put you ahead of your fellow bidders.
Be prepared for a lengthy process
While you need to move quickly in this market, buying a home is a major purchase. You don’t want to jump into a 30-year mortgage with a sense of urgency or panic. Prepare yourself for at least a six-month process to find the home that’s right for you. Competition remains stiff but don’t let this get you down. Turn each lost bid into a learning experience that will prepare you to make the best, most responsible decision.
Don’t be afraid to walk away
Even though your pre-approval letter may indicate you can afford a home, avoid becoming “house poor” by thinking practically about how monthly payments and potential repairs will impact your family budget. Bidding wars often result in buyers offering more than what the home is worth. Many may not realize that financial institutions will only lend on the appraised value of the home, and the difference will come straight out of your pocket.
If you find yourself feeling a sense of panic or urgency through the homebuying process, slow down and revisit the maximum price you previously wrote down. Ask yourself, “What’s the rush?” Prices are at an all-time high, so don’t be afraid to walk away and continue to hunt for the home that’s within your means.
Whether prospective homebuyers are upgrading, downsizing or just starting out, OnPoint offers affordable local financing to fit anyone’s needs. Learn more about purchasing a new home, mortgage refinancing and home equity loan options with OnPoint.
About OnPoint Community Credit Union
OnPoint Community Credit Union is the largest credit union in Oregon, serving over 455,000 members and with assets of $8.9 billion. Founded in 1932, OnPoint Community Credit Union’s membership is available to anyone who lives or works in one of 28 Oregon counties (Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Sherman, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler and Yamhill) and two Washington counties (Skamania and Clark) and their immediate family members.
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