The 5 Most Important Lessons These Homebuyers Learned in 2022
Every year is different in the real estate world. In 2021, buyers were paying top dollar for their dream homes — and perhaps their not-so-dream homes. So how did 2022 compare?
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Some buyers found they had more wiggle room in pricing, while others made quick moves and found themselves wishing they’d waited for a dip in the market. Even more found that off-market deals and savvy Realtors are still a winning combination, particularly as sellers started to get spooked over listings that didn’t get a bunch of offers right away.
I spoke to five people who bought properties in 2022, and here’s what they had to say about the experience. If you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner next year, it’s probably best to take their words to heart.
“Backing out of a deal is a great way to gain leverage.”
Have you ever submitted an offer and found yourself waiting… and waiting… and waiting? You have a hunch there are no other offers in the hopper — or maybe you even have insider intel on it — yet it seems likely the owner is stalling in the hopes of a better offer magically falling from the sky. Dennis Shirshikov, a real estate strategist, learned that backing out of a deal is a great way to gain leverage. “We submitted a winning offer and the owners took their sweet time, so we backed out,” explains Shirshikov.
His story has a happy ending (for him, the buyer), “The owner came back quickly, but we asked for a $5,000 discount and got it!”
“I wish we’d spoken to a financial advisor.”
Real estate agents are the experts on houses, but buying a home isn’t just a decision about how much square footage you need, and which styles you prefer.
Matt Hagens, a marketer and woodworker, found the perfect house last spring and his agent was on board. But, while Hagens is still confident he found the right home, he noticed by the end of the summer that all of the home prices in the area had dropped. “It’s not the most significant change, but we could have saved some money if we’d waited a few more months,” says Hagens.
He now wishes he’d spoken to a financial advisor that could have offered insight into larger market trends. Hagens says, “I advise you to consult your financial advisor and planner before making a large purchase.”
“Don’t do an inspection remotely.”
While the last two years have made waiving inspections common, Charlotte M. says that doing so is not a good idea. It’s also not wise to handle it in another pandemic-friendly way.
“Don’t do an inspection remotely,” she says. “Get on your hands and knees to look at everything and under everything.” She explains that while the house might have looked great on the day you put the offer in, things start to look different when it’s empty and, in her words, “naked.”
In her house, a closet that had the washing machine hid stagnant water damage and was wide open to holes in the wall, which led straight into the attic above. “It was a nightmare of moisture and the mothership for pest issues,” Charlotte says.
With that experience behind her, she advises others to be very thorough when it comes to the final stages of a purchase. “See how much pesticide they’re hiding in the attic,” Charlotte says. “Obsess over baseboards.”
“Work with someone who has your best interest at heart.”
An agent is an advocate, and they’re supposed to go to bat for you at every stage, from finding a home that fits your wishlist, to submitting the best offer possible, to completing all of the paperwork correctly.
Larry Snider, a VP of Operations at a vacation rental company, successfully bought a home in 2022 thanks to the work of his real estate agent and says, “You want to work with someone who has your best interest at heart and is willing to listen to what you want.”
Even if you love scrolling through Zillow listings and scouring open houses, it’s tough to do it on your own. “A good agent will help you write offers, negotiate, and find homes that meet your needs and budget. Working with someone who doesn’t do these things is going to be a major cause of stress and frustration,” says Snider.
“I learned the importance of patience.”
Zach Larsen, a small business owner and finance and investment expert, dove into the home buying process in 2022 and found himself facing a long and difficult journey. But, for all the trials, he ended up with a home — one that made the process worth it.
“I learned that it is important to be prepared for anything when buying a home, as there can be many unforeseen obstacles,” says Larsen. He put eight offers in before finally coming out on top on the ninth one. And each missed house wasn’t only frustrating on a financial level, but also emotional. He explains, “The home-buying process is extremely personal. Before putting in an offer, we had to imagine our family being in that home, living there, growing old there, and so on.”
But it all worked out, and he says he learned a life lesson. “Every time our offer was rejected,” he says, “We picked ourselves up and moved forward with a little more patience than the last time.”