Home buying advice from a veteran real estate agent

TAMPA, Florida – The frustration of buying a home is real, and you’re not alone. But unfortunately, the market is competitive, and for many, losing to better deals is becoming the norm.

ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska sat down with realtor Laura Bohannon-Myers with EXP Realty.

Bohannon-Myers said many people are moving to Florida from other parts of the country, such as the northeast, with money to spend, which rules locals out of the market.

“They’re competing with everybody from California, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, everybody comes in with big money, and cash is king,” Bohannon-Myers said.

But that doesn’t mean you’re out of the game. On the contrary, Bohannon-Myers said you can position yourself to outbid the competition.

“If you come at full price, you’ll never get the house, so you know. I had an $800,000 house, buyers came at full price, despite what I said, and the seller said, ‘don’t even bother.’ We have bids well over $50,000 and $75,000 cash above the ask.”

Putting 40% to 50% should be the norm to outbid others. And, if your house budget is $250,000, find a $200,000 house to build a cushion to bid on the asking price.

“Instead of waiting and selling your house, get a HELOC, get a home equity line of credit, get as much money out of your house as you can,” Bohannon-Myers said. “So you can have more money when you go and buy the next house. So that’s something that if you’re not in a position where you can’t carry two mortgages, it’s a good scam of to be able to buy a better house.”

Find a good lender and see what your best options are.

“I can’t tell you the stacks of offers we have on all these homes, and really the cash is accepted first, then conventional, FHA and VA. And, I love my VA buyers, I have so many VA buyers but zero down, and their ratings are a little tougher, sometimes it puts you in a worse position.”

Bohannon-Myers said you could expect to pay higher interest rates on your mortgage if you wait to buy. So the best option if you really want a house is to get in the game now.

“But cash forward is going to be your biggest thing, save a bit, see if you can borrow some under different programs. There’s money you can borrow for down payments. So there are options .”

Or try an emotional appeal to the salesperson.

“Write a moving letter. Some people say don’t do it. But I probably have five of the houses I got under contract this year out of the multiples that those particular five got on the letter, and it wasn’t the best offer,” Bohannon-Myers said.

“When I move out of a house, I know the seller loves their house and they want someone who loves their house too. So it’s important that they know that person is going to love their house.”

Do not ask for repairs, closing costs or other concessions from the seller.

“Especially not in the New Tampa Wesley Chapel area. South Tampa the same, I even find that in Brooksville,” Bohannon-Myers said.

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