Navigating a Sellers Market as a Homebuyer

Haute Realty’s Mona Barnett quoted in a  local mortgage blog!     Posted by with Bay Equity Home Loans on April 21st, 2014




Today’s home buyer faces unique challenges in our Metroplex. Dallas is apparently the place to be, as indicated by the housing inventory shortage, causing multiple offer situations to be commonplace. If you’ve been home shopping for any amount of time, this isn’t news to you. And if you’re currently shopping or considering buying a home soon, then THIS ARTICLE IS FOR YOU!

Navigating what’s considered to be a seller’s market can seem like a daunting task for a home buyer – especially if you’re a first-timer. While the market has definitely shifted in favor of the seller, it’s a great time to buy considering current mortgage rates and the likely continuation of value escalation… meaning that even if you feel like you have to “over-pay” for the house of your dreams today, it’s likely to be worth even more tomorrow. Of course, no one can guarantee property value trends, but most anyone with any experience or knowledge of the industry agrees now is a great time to buy, IF you can win a contract bid.

I’ve spoken to a few of my favorite, very successful agents in our marketplace for some solid feedback on how they’re helping their clients win bids and, conversely, how they’re representing their sellers. This is especially important to know as a buyer, because in order to win, you must be thinking about things from the seller’s perspective and appeal to their greatest needs.

Here are a few points all of the agents seem to agree on:

“It’s not necessarily all about the money. JP Paccinini of JP & Associates Realtors says, “Actually in multiple offers the list price will generally be very close among the serious buyers. Most offer 1%-3% above list price, anything more and a good listing agent knows you will have appraisal issues and that value won’t be justified anyway. A couple of factors are: 1. Who is the buyer’s agent and are they professional, courteous and knowledgeable? i.e. Are we going to have a smooth transaction or this agent a prima donna know-it-all? 2. How strong are the buyers, i.e. who is putting more money down and who has the best financing options? (Typically in order Cash, Conv, FHA/VA last). 3. Who is offering the best terms. Often a flexible closing date or a lease back can carry so much weight. Remember the sellers – they are most likely buyers as well. And finally, I have seen sellers take thousands less when a buyer presents a “Dear Seller” letter (family portrait included).” JP also says, “I would say at least a quarter of the multiple offers are not selected based on highest price.”

Mike Schmitt of White Rock Lake Real Estate, LLC says, “The best creative strategy I know is to be their first and, depending upon the property, bid over list price. Sometimes that causes appraisal problems so if the buyer has a large down payment and can pay over appraised value that helps. Also, having the least amount of contingencies helps.”

“Offer to buy the house AS-IS. While you will still have it inspected, you make your offer valid with no requirement of repairs” says Mona Barnett of Haute Realty in Dallas. She continues, “Try a waiver of the right to terminate because of an appraisal coming in low, this special provision recently won my seller!” Committing to paying the negotiated price regardless of appraised value gives the seller peace of mind that their numbers won’t change at the last minute.

“Consider ALL aspects of the contract from the seller’s perspective,” Kevin Caskey of Dallas City Center Realtors says, “You must look at everything to determine which offer truly benefits your seller the most. There are many factors in addition to sales price…option fee amount/time, closing date, cash vs. financing, their choice of lender, amount of earnest money and down payment, to whether they are using a reputable agent/brokerage that doesn’t stand in the way of a deal coming to fruition.”

So, according to some of the experts who will be helping sellers decide whether to accept offers, here are the basics:

Pick your agent wisely. The seller’s agent probably has had past dealings with your agent if they’ve been around any amount of time. Check references, because if the seller’s agent doesn’t like working with your agent, they’re likely to consider other offers more seriously. Make sure they have a VERY professional demeanor and stellar communication skills. Any of the agents I’ve quoted here are serious professionals that will help you (their contact information is available with hyperlinks above or listed below). If you haven’t selected an agent, feel free to call on me for a recommendation… Since 95% of my business is referred by real estate agents, I have the scoop on the best ones!
Choose a lender that has a proven track record. Most agents know the benefits of a good lender and will advise their seller accordingly. (This is where I come in!) The reputation and performance history of lenders throughout the Metroplex is a topic of discussion amongst realtors, so if you select one that has had issues in the past within the realtor community, they’re sure to tell the seller and advise accordingly!
Make your offer serious and flexible to the benefit of the seller.
Leaseback options – as long as 30 days – should be standard and assumed in this market. Quick contract close dates are always appealing to the seller, but be sure to include the lease-back option!
Higher earnest or option fees, shorter (or even NO) option period. 5 days or less is recommended.
If you’re offering over asking price, make note that you’re willing to pay the difference in cash if the house doesn’t appraise. (remember that this is over and above your required down-payment for financing)
Offer to buy the house AS-IS with no repair requirements.
Include a “Dear Seller” letter, ideally with portraits. Make sure you’re doing all you can to appeal to their emotions and explain why you love the house and why they can feel good about selling YOU their home.
Make an offer that is serious. Low-balling is a thing of the past. Most listings have multiple offers and usually end up over asking price. If you’re buying in this market, remember that you’ll likely have to pay AT LEAST asking price. (Remember, current market prices are increasing every day. If that trend continues (and I expect that it will), you won’t be underwater for long, even if you pay over current appraised value.)
Consider larger down payments or even paying cash if that’s an option and remember that the TYPE of financing noted on the contract can have an impact on the seller’s decision. Most agents agree that the best terms for the seller are (in this order) 1. Cash, 2. Conventional financing, 3. Government (FHA/VA) financing. (I’ll be writing a follow up post to agents to help dispel the notion that FHA/VA financing isn’t JUST AS GOOD as conventional, but that’s another topic altogether – for now, we’re focusing on the general consensus to help you win the bid!).

Ultimately, just remember that the typical goal of the seller is to sell their home for the greatest profit, in the shortest amount of time with little to no risk of the buyer not following through, all while giving them the greatest amount of flexibility on moving and situating their lives and being the least amount of headache from contract through closing with a buyer that they feel good about emotionally. Oh, yeah, they want their cake and to eat it too! If you can hit all those points, then you’re likely to win the bid and the house of your dreams!

Oak Lawn: 101

Oak Lawn: 101 Want a quick rundown of the neighborhood?

First things, first: where exactly is Oak Lawn? I have realized it’s not so easy to define. You could simply put borders around the 75219 zip code—a personal preference, considering Knox is having an affair with Henderson and Uptown/LoMac is in its own little world (but I’m not bitter). Or you could follow Google Maps, which includes Knox and Uptown, then cuts off the neighborhood at the Dallas North Tollway. No matter how you decide to configure your map, just be sure not to leave out the main roads: Lemmon and—you guessed it—Oak Lawn Ave.

Now that we can move on, let’s get to the good stuff: homes! Goodness, where do I begin? Are you interested in a Hollywood glam high-rise overlooking Turtle Creek? Or an adorable cottage hidden in the historical Perry Heights? Or maybe you want a sizable town home convenient to Highland Park. ( This is a town home we have listed in Oak Lawn). Even your business choices range from commercial office space to rezoned residential homes. Whether you attempt to discover every condominium in the area or try to keep track of the apartment complexes popping up within weeks, you will never get bored exploring the diverse architecture.

And, if I were to sum up Oak Lawn as a whole, diverse is exactly how I would describe it. The broad range of people (and dogs!) within this lovely little neighborhood make it one of the most interesting parts of Dallas. I encourage you to check out the extensive LGBT collection at the Oak Lawn Dallas Public Library. I suggest you take your next date to the other Library, located in the Warwick Melrose Hotel. I challenge you to count and categorize every restaurant in the area (double challenge to try them all!). And, hopefully, I inspire you to seriously consider calling Oak Lawn, home.


Nina Ojeda REALTOR®, oak lawn resident and a doberman’s pet human

Haute Gallery

HauteGalleryBlackCroppedAre you looking for ways to start off your Mardi Gras weekend? We want to welcome you to  Haute Realty’s gallery event, Haute Gallery, on Saturday, March 1, at Classic Pilates for a glass of wine and a peek at some stunning art by local Dallas artists.

The event will be from 7pm-10pm, so feel free to drop by before or after dinner.  If you are still hungry- no worries- there will be snacks! We will have live music from the talented,  Robert Miller.   Our art display will include the works from Renee Vandevere, Greg Barker, Mindy Collins and Tamara White, who have all been featured in D Magazine!

Haute GalleryI could go on about how wonderful each of their pieces are,

but you’ll just have to come and see for yourself!


Classic Pilates

3303 Lee Pkwy #105

Dallas, TX 75219




Haute Gallery blog by: Nina Ojeda, REALTOR®

Closing Costs ARE Negotiable!

Many people do not realize that closing costs are negotiable.

“There is a lot of room for negotiation in the costs of closing. Consumers should examine every charge and not hesitate to challenge them and try to bring them down,” says Barry Zigas director of housing policy at the Consumer Federation of America.  Closing costs add up fast when buying or refinancing, they can run anywhere from 3 to 6 percent of the price of the property.   Many of the fees associated with closing are negotiable and consumers should review line-by-line estimates and challenge them.

You should ask the lender which fees are negotiable and which are fixed.   Ask questions like who is getting paid this fee, and why am I being asked to pay it?  This type of questioning can start the conversation, experts say.  “It is not a time to be polite” says Kathleen Day, a spokeswoman for the Center for Responsible Lending.  The lender  MUST provide you a Good-Faith-Estimate after three days of receiving a loan application.  You should use those estimates (at least three) to shop for the best deal.  Why shouldn’t you shop for the best loan?  You shop for the best house!