First-Time Homebuyer in Seattle? Here's How to Rise Above the Challenges

For first-time buyers, dipping their toes into an unimaginably competitive seller's market is quite intimidating. Every interested home buyer in Seattle realizes that the odds are stacked against them to some degree. You can't scroll through your news feed or walk by a TV without hearing about the record-setting Seattle housing market. 

In fact, Seattle was recently ranked by Zillow as the 9th toughest market for first-time home buyers, according to an article published by the K5 news station. To determine which markets were most competitive and challenging throughout the country, the study considered the following five factors: median home value, forecasted value appreciation, current inventory levels, listings that had to lower the price of the home in order to sell and the Breakeven Horizon. 

Throughout the city and even in the surrounding suburbs of East King County, home buyers are faced with record-low inventory levels, increasingly rising prices and seemingly impossible competition – even in more "affordable" options such as Issaquah. Homeowners expect multiple offers on their properties in a matter of hours, and they often can choose from cash offers and those that are significantly higher than their asking price.

So this may leave some first-time home buyers frustrated before the process even begins. But don't fret. There is a way to get the keys to an amazing home in Seattle — you just need to have the right tools and resources available to do so!

5 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers Facing the Hot Seattle Market

  1. Work with an agent who has experience and who knows how to advocate for you as a first-time buyer: Agents who know how to maneuver through a competitive seller's market will be able to position your offer in a way that is favorable to you but also desirable to the seller. You want to work with an agent who will inform you about the real estate process, and give you the advice you need to be successful.
  2. Recognize that you are in a seller's market: You will likely need to accommodate the needs of the seller in order to get the house, especially when you are probably going to be one of several offers they are considering. If they need occupancy, give them the occupancy – within reason. Minimize the number of contingencies you place on the offer if you can.
  3. Make sure your financing is in order prior to seeing homes and placing any offers: Sellers are almost only going to accept offers from buyers who they know are capable of closing the deal. Offer cash if you are able, but if not, work with a lender prior to beginning your home search in order to begin the process of being pre-approved for a mortgage.
  4. Know that there are advantages to being a first-time buyer, particularly in a competitive seller's market: Many of the buyers you are competing against need to sell their property in order to purchase a new one. They may have to coordinate occupancy schedules and other logistical factors in order to move. As a first-time buyer, you have no strings attached and can simplify the process for the seller.
  5. Don't be afraid to sell yourself to sellers: Consider attaching a letter with your offer that explains that you are a first-time buyer, and you can imagine all of the special moments and memories that will be made in the home. A surprising number of sellers are motivated by these letters, and it could give you the competitive edge you need to get your offer accepted.

With just more than 6,000 homes listed on the market in Seattle, it's certainly daunting to be a first-time buyer at this particular moment in time. You're looking for just the right house at a price that is comfortable for you, and you're faced with never-ending competition. However, when you partner with the right real estate agent, you'll be able to get into the home of your dreams in this fantastic city. Find out more about the current market conditions today. 

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