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Millions of people visit sites such as realtor.com® each month, but fewer than 500,000 homes are bought on average in any given month in the U.S.
That means that real buyers—or “serious buyers,” as we call them—are outnumbered by millions of casual lookers, tire kickers, and other prospective buyers (OK, let’s call them “gawkers”) who are a whole lot less likely to buy anytime soon.
Well, the more serious you are, the more serious you appear to mortgage lenders, home sellers, and others you’ll encounter during your path to homeownership. And that makes you far more likely to snag that dream home when you finally find it.
So what are the hallmarks of a serious buyer? Here’s what I’ve learned from studying our data:
Serious buyers have been doing their homework
On average, these buyers have spent three to six months considering their needs, getting their financial houses in order, and looking for ideal neighborhoods and homes.
Serious buyers have a definitive time frame in mind
Most of them intend to buy within the year. The journey to buy a home is no simple task; few people want to drag it out indefinitely. Also, the primary trigger for buying is often a calendar-related factor such as a change in the household composition (e.g., a wedding, birth, or adoption), the start of a new job or school, or the end of a lease.
Serious buyers have credit scores and down payments in line
They’re far less likely than others to say that they need to improve their credit score or save for a down payment. As a result, they also are less likely to report having a problem qualifying for a mortgage.
Serious buyers know they qualify for a mortgage
They are three times more likely than an average prospective buyer to get pre-approved for a mortgage.
Serious buyers hit open houses and make offers
They are 50% more likely to visit open houses and request information on properties listed online, but the real proof of how serous they are is that they are four times as likely to make offers.
Serious buyers have buyer’s agents
They are five times more likely to be formally represented by a buyer’s agent.
Consumers who are just getting started can turn these attributes of a serious buyer into a template for how to be successful in the journey to homeownership.
Here are a few other tips to make sure the market takes you seriously as a buyer:
- Nail your due diligence. Assess your needs while determining what you can afford and ensuring your credit score is in shape.
- Be realistic about your time frame and give yourself plenty of time to deal with a tight market. From beginning to end, the journey is likely to last between three and 12 months.
- Find an expert local Realtor® to represent you through the journey.
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage and be ready to pounce.Jonathan Smoke realtor.com®