If you’re shopping for a home in the District of Columbia, you likely already know that the market is competitive and pricey. Like many metropolitan areas, demand outstrips supply, bidding wars are common, and it can be tough for buyers to find a property that they both like and can afford. It can be daunting for shoppers to consider throwing their hat in the ring.
However, there are ways to make the process less stressful. If you’re buying a house in DC, read on for four tips that will help you snag your (realistic) dream property.
1. Don’t Narrow Your Options to a Specific Neighborhood
Many house-hunters make the mistake of setting their sights on a specific neighborhood. Well-established, in-demand neighborhoods are attractive, and the house prices (and stiff competition) will reflect this.
Instead, don’t rule out other “transitional” neighborhoods. These are areas in the city that aren’t yet as trendy but are up-and-coming.
To pick the right neighborhood, look for areas that border other hot areas, are accessible by public transportation, and have a declining crime rate. Another tell-tale sign that a neighborhood is on the up-swing: a burgeoning art scene.
By expanding your search, you may well end up with more home for your money and with the right research, you’ll have a new favorite neighborhood, too.
2. Pick the Right Agent
Realtors are not created equal. Before you start your hunt, do your research to ensure you’re picking the right agent.
The agent you choose should be familiar with the DC area – and, more specifically, the neighborhood(s) in which you hope to buy. See if he or she has recently sold other homes in your preferred area.
Get referrals if you can. Talk to others who have bought and sold recently in DC to see who they used and why they would (or wouldn’t) recommend them. Check online reviews as well, they are a wealth of information.
Feel free to “interview” a handful of agents, too. You’ll be working closely with this person, so make sure your personalities click.
3. Research Loan Options
Some buyers (especially first-time buyers) can be intimidated by the outdated 20% down rule.
Of course, the more you can put down, the better, as it’s that much less you’ll need to mortgage. However, 20% can be very difficult to save. Research what other loan options are available to see if there is an option for you that allows you to get into a home sooner and with less cash upfront.
Look at FHA-backed loan options that ask for 3.5% down or conventional mortgages that ask for 3% or 5%. If you are a first-time buyer, it’s also smart to see what down-payment assistance programs might be available to you.
4. Don’t Rule Out Multi-Family Housing
When looking at DC-area homes for sale, a single-family home might be your preference. However, don’t rule out a condo or townhome.
These properties are often less expensive than detached homes, meaning you get more for your money. They also become great investment properties if and when you’re ready to move onto something else.
Learn More About Buying a House in DC
Whether you’re a home buyer or a real estate professional, the strong market means there is a lot to learn and consider when buying a house in DC.
Check out our blog for home buying and selling resources including staging and decorating tips, buying investment properties, marketing properties, and more. Plus, join our network of real estate professionals today!