Tips for buyers in a seller's market


Many Michiganders believe that snow, which usually comes at the beginning of the holiday season, signals a stark change in the real estate market. While it is true that the cold weather can slow down buyer traffic, serious buyers who have to relocate will continue to shop and buy homes no matter the climate. We will see a reduction in cross-town moves during this time of year, but that is because many parents want to time their move during the summer, when their children are out of school.

Even in November, buyers are shopping for homes in a tight housing market with low inventory. And so far, real estate experts are not predicting a huge shift to favor the buyer in 2020. So how can a buyer still find the right home while competing in a seller’s market?

Make Sure You Are Pre-Approved

Getting  pre-approved for a mortgage should be the first step in your home buyer journey. Without a letter of pre-approval, you won’t know exactly what you can afford or what neighborhoods to start searching in. It can be heartbreaking to find the home of your dreams only to learn later that you are not approved.

Not only does a letter of pre-approval give you more confidence as a buyer, it gives confidence to the seller as they know you are serious about their property and have already been approved for a mortgage.  This confidence from the seller is crucial when competing with multiple buyers.

Be Ready to Move Quickly

Due to the low inventory of homes, you will want to be prepared to make decisions quickly.

This does not mean to make rash decisions with one of the most important investments you will make. But be mindful that you may not have as much time or room for negotiation in this competitive market.

If you find a home that meets your needs and is in the perfect neighborhood, don’t take too long to make an offer. It probably won’t be on the market for long and you risk losing that opportunity altogether.

Hire an Experienced Michigan Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling a home should not be a DIY project, even for the most eager do-it-yourselfer.

It’s important to have an experienced real estate agent advocating for you and helping you negotiate with the seller. Realtors will be familiar with the local communities in Michigan and can help you find the right home even when inventory is low. They may also have access to expired or withdrawn listings that you may not even be aware of.

When it comes to making a major decision like buying a home, there is simply no substitute for the experience a real estate agent can provide.

Be Flexible and Willing to Compromise

Perhaps you have your heart set on one or two different neighborhoods. Is it possible to search slightly outside of those areas? Instead of forgoing luxury features or appliances, you may find that you get more house for your home simply by looking one zip code away.

If location is the top of your needs list, for example, you need to be in a specific school district, can you compromise on other features? If a certain school district is the utmost importance to you, can you make home improvements later?

The bottom line is to prepare to be flexible in a seller’s market. Carefully consider your wants vs needs and what is most important to you and your family. Then determine where you are willing to compromise.
Think of Non-Monetary Gestures to Strengthen Your Offer

In multi-bid situations, make sure your real estate agent asks the listing agent for the seller’s preferences for closing date and occupancy. Does the seller need 3 or 30 days after closing to fully move out of the house? Being sensitive to the seller’s timeline can boost the attractiveness of your offer. Also ask the seller if there are any other considerations that they would find attractive. One of my sellers, who received three offers in less than one week, selected the buyer who was willing to “adopt” some patio furniture he did not want to move to his new house.


Tracy Wick, SRES, MUP is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist in Michigan with over 25 years of experience as a real estate consultant and client advocate. Tracy is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams and she can help guide you through your new home search ensuring that your most important transition is the right one for you. Find more articles on home buying, selling, elder transition and estate settlement at or contact her directly at 248-912-7407 or