Shopping in a Tight Market

Last year forced people to put their plans on hold, and that included many real estate decisions.  While the Fayetteville market stayed strong in 2020 there were many homeowners who delayed either buying or selling due to health or economic concerns.   That is just one of the reasons that this year’s housing market in North Carolina is quite competitive.

Experts point to other factors as well--

  • In order to help the economy recover, interest rates have been kept low, but experts keep hinting that it may soon start to rise, so now is a good time to take out a new mortgage.  

  • Millennials are starting to enter the time in their lives when they are ready to start buying their first homes.  And for some 2020 was a year when they were able to save up for a down payment.

  • With the rise of working remotely, more urban dwellers are able to move out into the suburbs and into a larger home with room for a home office.

  • Even before 2020, the years spent in a home were trending longer.


If you’re a seller you welcome people competing for your home.  Chances are good that you will sell quickly, over your asking price, and without worrying about inspections sinking your sale.  Because you can find a buyer willing to forgo demanding contingencies.

Though, if you are trying to buy,  you don’t much care about the reasons.  You want to know how you can improve your odds, beyond just paying more and risking no inspections.  

Before I give you some tips for navigating the tight market I want to warn you about Buyer Fatigue.  Many home shoppers are simply giving up without even making an offer on a home.  An open house may have 20 or 30 people go through and only receive 1 or 2 offers because many shoppers just don’t expect success. They are reading so many articles about the market being tight they assume it is everywhere.   So...

 Don’t Give Up!

Not all markets are the same. There are many where the old rules still apply. So if you can’t afford to go over the asking price, make your best offer anyway. If you are nervous about skipping the inspection, make an offer with contingencies. Rejection does get frustrating, but don’t let it stop you from trying because you don’t really know if you’ll be successful or not.

If you do find yourself in a tight market here are a few ideas to help:

Use a realtor

Especially one familiar with the local area/market. Make sure you contact your realtor early so they can keep an eye and ear out for new listings to help you get a jump on the competition. A realtor can also be your advocate in case there is a bidding war.

Get pre-approved/Have a downpayment ready

When you find something you like you need to be ready to move. In a tight market a seller doesn’t have to wait for you to get your stuff together, they can simply move on to the next buyer.

Also, be aware that in a competitive market savvy investors will use cash to buy properties in order to beat out those who are taking out a mortgage.

Know your wants vs needs

You may need to temper your expectations a little and be willing to compromise. It’s very difficult to find everything you want in one perfect house, but in a tight market you really don’t have the time to debate one home’s perfect kitchen over another’s perfect bathroom.

You might even want to consider buying a fixer-upper. Though this one will require consultation with your realtor on which improvements are worth it and which are risky. Potentially with a contractor, on how much improvements may run you. And, with your lender on getting approval for home improvement loans.


Consider expanding your geographical area

Are you going to be working from home more often? Maybe a short commute doesn’t have to be number one on your list if you aren’t going to be making it every day.

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of living in “neighborhood A” but “neighborhood B” has homes just as nice closer to your price range.

One way to help you with this is to do some virtual shopping of your interest areas. Seeing the different homes for sale will give you an idea of what the market has to offer.

Tell all your friends and family to keep their ears open

The more options you have the better your chances of snagging a winner.

It’s easy to get frustrated when your offers are being rejected or homes sell before you’ve even had a chance to see it in person. The best way to avoid that frustration is to prepare, prepare, prepare. Yes, you want to be able to make your decision quickly but you want that decision to be made smartly, and with all available information.