Local housing market questions answered for Lifestyle readers by St. Louis native and realtor Lindsey Jacobs:
DURING 2023, ARE CREDIT SCORES STILL FACTORS IN BEING ABLE TO BUY HOMES? HOW LONG DOES IT TYPICALLY TAKE TO GET FINANCES IN ORDER?
"Strong credit scores will get buyers a lower interest rate. It can take a few days to a couple of weeks to get a complete pre-approval. Lenders do a full financial review so they will need financial docs like your tax return, bank statements, W-2 or 1099. I always tell buyers this is the first step in the home buying process."
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SELECTING THE 'RIGHT' REALTOR/REAL ESTATE AGENT AND LENDER EVEN BEFORE ACTION IS NEEDED?
"It’s best to be prepared in advance, so when you fall in love with a house, you can make an offer. When we have a buyer consultation, we cover everything, including an overview of the entire buying process and multiple offer strategies so when the time comes, you’re educated, confident and ready to buy a home."
ARE MORTGAGE RATES STABILIZING, AND WITH HELPFUL OPTIONS?
"Yes! Rates have leveled off and even decreased over the past few weeks, which is giving buyers more motivation. We’re even seeing FHA and VA offers being accepted again."
DO YOU ANTICIPATE THIS YEAR'S HOUSING MARKET TO REMAIN HIGHLY COMPETITIVE? IS HESITATING STILL A COSTLY MISTAKE?
"I think it will remain very competitive unless rates increase significantly. We have extremely low inventory with high buyer demand in the St. Louis area, which increases competition. Waiting could actually cost buyers more money in the long run, as prices continue to increase. The good news is, if rates drop after a buyer closes, they can always refinance in the future and lock in a lower interest rate. Renters are already paying a mortgage, just not their own, so if a renter has good credit, income and assets, now's the time to buy!"
1. Choose a realtor you like and trust.
"It’s crucial to work with an experienced agent who understands what it takes to get offers accepted in this competitive market."
2. Get pre-approved for a loan.
"It’s never too early to start this process. You can’t make offers on properties without having pre-approval or proof of funds to show sellers, so it’s best to start this undertaking as soon as buying is on your radar."
3. Start home search.
"An agent will send active, coming soon and off-market listings that match your criteria."
4. Make an offer.
"It's so important to understand the market when writing a contract, so you know if you’re in competition, or if you can negotiate with the seller."