Answer: Many buyers are struggling now as the market is showing signs of improvement in regards to prices. At the same time the inventory remains low for the demand. This combination has put the sellers in the driver's seat. Many of today's offers are above the asking price of the seller. I believe there are a few things that could help your positioning so that you may have a better chance to get the home you want. First, be willing to offer more than the asking price. You will have to rely on your agent to determine if the pricing of the house requires that action. It could be the home is overpriced to begin with and that move is not necessary but be prepared to take that step. Second, insure that your loan is approved at the dollar amount of your offer and that you have proof of the funds you will be putting down on the property. This shows the seller that you are serious and ready to move on a house when it becomes available. Third, consider a higher down payment such as going to 20% down to achieve a conventional loan. This may not be possible for you but the better the down payment the more likely you are to be selected. If your competition is an FHA loan with 3.5% down that may be difficult to complete, then the seller is going to select the loan with the best possibility of being achieved. What makes an offer strong is a buyer who is qualified and has ready cash to make the transaction happen. It does not need to be an all cash offer to be an excellent offer but the larger the amount being put down, the more solid the buyer looks to the seller. Lastly, find an agent who handles a significant number of listings as they may be able to put you into a home that they have available or that they know will be coming available. If that agent knows that you are a qualified buyer that can perform on the transaction and has some time with you to determine your seriousness and qualifications they can go to bat for you with the seller. This does not mean they can make a better deal for you as they also represent the seller and need to get the seller the very best deal they can for them as well, but it may mean that you have a better opportunity to achieve your goal. It is difficult for buyers currently. It may mean that you have to expand your search to areas further away from work than you wanted. I may mean that you will be willing to settle for a home that does not have all the amenities you would like. It does mean that you will have to be a bit more flexible as you search, may have to pay more than you wanted to, and be satisfied that you did get a home and one that you can enjoy. The rates are low so it makes sense to make every effort to achieve your goal. Good luck.

Question:  My husband and I are thinking about selling our home and I am getting letters from real estate agents that say they have a buyer for my home.  Do they, or is this just a way to get a listing?

Answer:  The real estate market currently lacks the number of homes on the market to provide for the number of buyers that are looking.  Low inventory exists across the nation right now and is particularly prevalent in Southern California.  Yorba Linda has less than 150 properties for sale at a time that would normally be twice that amount. Generally, that number decreases from now until March of next year when people put their homes on the market for sale in the spring and summer. As a result real estate agents are scrambling to find homes for their buyers.  I believe that many agents are sending out letters to selected neighborhoods on behalf of their clients in an attempt to find them a home. Buyers, after touring the available homes, determine the neighborhoods they desire. Then, if no home is found that matches their needs and desires, they tell the agent, “If anything comes up in XYZ neighborhood, please contact me.”  Good agents may send out letters to the desired neighborhoods or go door-to-door soliciting homeowners who might be considering selling their home.  A good way to determine if the letter or solicitation is genuine and not just an attempt to get a listing is to ask the agent for the name or names of the prospective buyer(s).  If there is a name behind the request, and you would sell if the property agrees with the buyer, then you might allow the agent to do a One Party Show.  In that case, if the buyer does like the house and makes an offer that is acceptable, then the deal will go forward.  If the buyer does not like the home, then there is no listing. If you are interested in selling, then you should contact the agent and discuss who they have in mind and see if going forward makes sense.  If you have an agent you use for real estate, then I would contact that person to discuss this opportunity. If the other agent does have a buyer, then they would be anxious to find them a home and be excited to provide them with a home they would enjoy while only handling the buyer’s side of the transaction. One big advantage of responding to the letter or contact could be a shortened time of turmoil in selling your home. You would not have to maintain your home week after week and to have open houses or even a sign in the yard. This could be an excellent opportunity for you to sell your home at a fair price and move on to your next destination with a smooth transition.  I would say, “Give the agent a call.”