I’m always fascinated with the home buying process in St. Louis. By my estimation, there are more than a million variables that go into a home buyer actually getting a house they want. One of the more interesting variables is time. Time affects home search in many ways, but here are a few.
- Limited time-the less time you have to find a property, the more forgiving of your criteria you’ll have to be. I’ve had 3 buyers find a house on the first day they looked. All of them knew what they wanted, were familiar with the area, and needed to move.
- Unlimited time-I’m pretty sure that an unlimited amount of time is not great for finding the home of your dreams. As an example, I know one couple that has made it a habit to go to open houses on weekends for the past 20 years. They would almost have their house paid off if they’d have just bought a home 20 years ago! The problem with an unlimited amount of time is that there’s no motivation to buy.
- Seasonal – You want to buy a house towards the end of May? Great! So does everyone else in St. Louis, it seems. This can cause a few issues. For one, more buyers generally means that the asking price of a home will go up. We’ve seen this over and over. A house priced at $600,000 in January comes to the market at $630,000 at the end of May. Buyers who have limited purchasing power almost always get caught buying less of a house than they could have in the winter.
I’m currently working with first time home buyers who are looking for a house in Tower Grove South in the city. They have accomplished the most important part of the home search. That is, they’ve settled on a location. When you settle on a location, good things happen. Here are a few
- When you’ve set a location, you’ve eliminated everything else. Some buyers look at homes from St. Charles to Affton. That’s almost 40 miles of housing between the two areas. It is so much easier when you set a location first.
- Buyer knowledge improves. My Tower Grove South buyers are aware of the trends in the area. They have learned what houses are selling for, and what features are key to a sale. This is so helpful for everyone because they know what they should expect to pay. While some buyers are looking all over the city with their agents concentrating only on price points, my buyers aren’t going to be fooled by the asking price.
- The feeling of “home”. When you look in a particular area, you also start learning about the stores, shops, churches, and restaurants in the area. This makes you a part of the community faster. That feeling of community helps when making the ultimate decision to purchase a home. You can be comfortable knowing how you will live in an area.
If my buyers have decided on the location, why then is it taking so long to find their house?
I’ve been thinking about that for a while. I know the answer. When you are looking for something specific, sometimes it takes a while for that home to appear on the market. We may look at 100 or more homes, but there is only going to be one where my buyers are most comfortable. Asking prices do play a role in this as well. As an example, let’s say there are 3 houses and all of them have an asking price of 175,000. One home may have only 1 bathroom. One home may have 2 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms but isn’t updated. Another home may have 2 bathrooms, is updated, but only has 2 bedrooms. If my buyers are looking for a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home, none of these homes are going to work. This is not a case of my buyers expecting too much for the amount they are willing to pay. The product they are looking for isn’t currently listed. This is why finding your perfect St. Louis home might take a while.
Keep this in mind. It’s ok to wait for the house that you want. It’s not a negative reflection of you or your real estate agent if you don’t find a house in a week or two. Relax, enjoy the journey. I’m sure you will find the perfect home. It just takes a little more time.