Buying and Selling in Baton Rouge’s Tight Housing Market

Baton Rouge is known for its savory food, live entertainment, college sports, and diverse housing. The housing market is still strong despite a lower inventory. Here are a few tips to help both buyers and sellers maintain their sanity.

Baton Rouge is known for its savory food, live entertainment, college sports, and diverse housing. In the past year, the area has experienced lower housing inventory than in the past. With the historic flooding in August, finding a house in the Baton Rouge market is expected to come with a few more challenges over the next year. Here are a few tips to help both buyers and sellers maintain their sanity.

Tips for Buyers:

Patience with Urgency

It sounds contradictory, but it’s true. In a tight housing market, you have to be patient in waiting for the right house to come available on the market. It may be days, or weeks, before you find a house online that you are interested in seeing. When you do find a house that you would like to see, you must act with urgency. Contact your real estate agent to set up an appointment to tour the home. If you like the house and are interested in making an offer, don’t wait! Have your agent contact the listing agent to see if any offers have been made on the house and submit an offer.

Get Notified

Many real estate agents can set you up for automatic email notifications. Agents can set up a search to look for houses that meet some of your search criteria including location, price range, number of bedrooms, square footage, etc. When a new listing that fits your criteria hits the market, you receive an email with a link to the listing. At Coldwell Banker ONE, many agents have a search function available on their website. For example, at www.RealtorAmyPoe.com, you can save your search, mark homes that you like as “favorites,” and more. When you find a property you would like to see, call your agent to set up an appointment.

Get Pre-Approved

This is always an important step as you prepare to buy a house. It is especially important when you are buying a house in a tight housing market. It’s not uncommon for buyers to look at a house and make an offer the same day. The majority of sellers require the buyer to include a lender’s pre-approval letter with the offer. While many lenders can walk you through the pre-approval process rather quickly, it’s important to have the relationship already established and knowledge of the loan programs you qualify for before making an offer on a house. There are a number of lenders to work within the Baton Rouge market such as Assurance Financial and NOLA Lending.

Make Your Best Offer

A tight housing market is not the time to low-ball your offer. If you truly like a house, you can envision yourself living there, and you would be disappointed if you didn’t get the house, base your offer on the fair market value. Your real estate agent can run comparable houses for the neighborhood and give you a good idea as to what the house is worth. Multiple offer situations are not uncommon in the Baton Rouge market, so keep in mind that you may have only one chance to make an offer on a house.

Don’t overpay! No matter how much you like the house, do not overpay. If you are financing the purchase, the property still has to be appraised. Purchasing a house is often one of the largest investments you will make in your life. Be smart and think long term. If you have to sell the house three years after moving in, your goal should be to sell the property without losing any money.

Tips for Sellers:

Prepare Your House

Take the time to prepare your house to present it in the best light. De-clutter, clean, make repairs, and remove personal items are just a few things you can do to prepare your house for sale. Most buyers begin their property search online, so your house’s online appearance is extremely important. Hire a real estate agent who understands marketing and how to best promote your property. You want buyers to notice the features of your home such as the crown molding and wood floors. You don’t want them to notice an open toilet seat, cluttered kitchen counters, or laundry hanging to dry.

Be Ready to Move

As a seller, you must be prepared to move quickly. Most buyers will want to move in as soon as possible. In our area, some buyers are ready to move within a couple of weeks. Some buyers are flexible with the move-in date, many are not. As a seller, you need to have a plan in place as to where you will move the minute you place your house on the market. In Baton Rouge, rentals are a bit difficult to find, so it is extremely important to have a game plan together.

Price It to Sell

The Baton Rouge market is experiencing low inventory. In July, there was less than a four month supply of inventory. In August, the inventory decreased a bit more due to homes impacted by flood waters. Some sellers see this as an opportunity to price their property a bit higher. While it may be tempting to price your property higher due to the high demand and lack of inventory, it is important to keep in mind that the buyer’s real estate agent will run a comparable market analysis to help determine fair market value. The lender will also have the property appraised based on past sales — usually the past six months of sales. Pricing your property can play a key role in how long your house stays on the market.

Buying and selling in a tight market is not impossible. Make sure to choose a real estate agent who understands your needs and can guide you through the process.

Amy Poe is a licensed REALTOR® serving the Greater Baton Rouge area who works with home buyers and sellers to help them reach their dreams. Before joining Coldwell Banker ONE, Amy worked in the marketing and public relations industry. Now, she's taking her marketing and communications skills and applying them to a career in real estate. She understands listing a home is more than placing it in MLS, it's about using data and technology to target the right buyers for each home. #GeauxwithPoe www.RealtorAmyPoe.com

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