If you live in an area where houses and condos are in high demand, you probably know how difficult it can be to find a home you like that's also affordable. While perusing real estate listings can uncover some gems, there are other options you can explore that may help you find your dream home and avoid the bidding wars that can occur in popular markets. Here are three ways to get an affordable home in a hot market.
Get a Well-Connected Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a must in any market. However, you need to be smart about who you hire. One of the top characteristics your real estate agent must have is he or she should be well-connected in the community. The primary reason for this is a well-connected agent may have access to off-market and pocket listings.
A pocket listing is one where the owners have contracted with the agent to sell the home but the agent hasn't notified other realtors about the home's availability yet. An off-market listing is one where the homeowner is selling but hasn't formally put the house on the market.
Since pocket and off-market listings haven't been advertised to the wider community, less people know about them. This means there's less competition for the house and you may be able to get the home at a reasonable price.
When shopping for a real estate agent, look for someone who has good relationships with people in the community and professionals who work in complementary industries, such as contractors, architects, and designers. The person should also have a lot of insight into the market and neighborhood, which can indicate they may have special knowledge of available properties that may be helpful to you.
Look into House Swapping
The term house swapping has come to mean staying in another person's home and vice versa for a short period of time, such as for vacation. For instance, a person in New York would make a deal with someone in England to live in each other's homes for the summer. While you can save a lot of money on lodging using this method, it's also a great way to find an affordable home in a hot market.
The trick is to find someone who has a home you like and is interested in moving into your residence. For instance, if you live in a condo, you could find a retiree who may be looking to downgrade from his or her multi-bedroom home to something requiring less money and responsibility.
House swapping provides several benefits, including faster closing times. You could even do a trial run where you each live in the other's home for awhile to see if the trade suits your needs. Things can get a little complex if there is a significant difference in the value of the home. However, a real estate attorney can help you work out the legal details involved in this type of exchange.
Take Advantage of Your Profession
Having certain professionals in a community can provide a number of benefits. For instance, the presence of a law enforcement officer can help deter crime. Because of this, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has a program—called the Good Neighbor Next Door Sales Program—aimed at encouraging certain professionals to live in select communities. In exchange for purchasing a house from the available listings, you'll get a 50 percent discount off the list price of the home. The program is open to law enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers, and EMTs, and You must promise to live in the area for a minimum of 3 years.
There may be similar programs available through the government or private parties that can help you get a good deal on a home. Your real estate agent can point you in the right direction or you can do a search online for leads.
For more information about getting an affordable home in a popular area, contact a realtor for real estate listings.