Photo by Monique Schoenfeld, Town Crier
Finding a dream home to buy in today's real estate market is difficult and frustrating. However, there are ways to increase the odds of finding a home sooner if you consider several measures, real estate experts say.
Just ask Rita Macdonald.
Macdonald, of Los Altos based-Campi Properties Inc., said patience and a resourceful agent bring the best chance of success.
"Agents typically search Multiple Listing Services (MLS) to match buyers with sellers, but with low inventories in Los Altos (only 50 homes available), and Los Altos Hills (30 homes listed), buyers have a limited choice of finding what they want," Macdonald said. "So I do a customized search for my clients."
In addition to using MLS, Macdonald searches the Santa Clara County's computerized database of property owners in the area where her client would like to buy. She then uses the Internet to search for property owners' phone numbers and calls the property owner directly to see if they have an interest in selling to her client. Macdonald has a number of success stories using this technique.
When starting to look for a home, the biggest hurdle is getting the finances in order and getting qualified for a mortgage, she said. Then when the right home becomes available, a buyer can make a strong bid. When the inventory is low, as it is in Los Altos, clients can find themselves competing with as many as 10 other bidders for the same house.
"This is a heated market and you have to network to find what you want," said Gary Campi, owner of Campi Properties Inc. "Every Monday morning at 9 a.m. all our agents meet to discuss potential new listings and the properties they are working on, because there is always a potential hidden market of homes for sale. If the selling price and terms are acceptable, then the owner of those properties might consider selling."
Through Campi's strong networking, his agents are able to match buyers with sellers without going through the MLS. This is one reason why Campi Properties Inc. sells more high-end homes in Los Altos Hills than other local Real Estate brokerage houses.
In today's seller's market, buyers have to analyze what type home they need and want, and prioritize the list by putting essential features that are necessary at the top, experts say. Buying a home requires making compromises, and it's unrealistic to expect to find all the features in one piece of property.
A buyer should let the agent know what the number- one priority is and then have the Realtor discard those on the bottom of the priority list.
"Buyers who are open to more than one design or style have a better chance of purchasing a home in today's market," Macdonald said.