Many Who Lost Homes to Foreclosure in Last Decade Won’t Return — NAR

Less than one-third of families who lost their homes to foreclosure or other distress events in the past decade are likely to become homeowners again, according to an analysis by the National Association of Realtors.

More than 9.3 million homeowners went through a foreclosure, surrendered their home to a lender or sold their home via a distress sale between 2006 and 2014. Of those, about 2.5 million either have already jumped back into the housing market or will do so within the next eight years because they have the…

NAR Power Broker Roundtable: Raising the Bar on Professionalism: Living Up …

The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of REALTORS®. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.

Moderator:
Jim Imhoff
, Chairman, CEO, First Weber Group, Madison, Wisc.; Special Liaison for Large Firm Relations, the National Association of REALTORS®

Panelists:
Sherry Chris, President/CEO, Better Homes Gardens Real Estate, Madison, N.J.
Candace Adams, President/CEO, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services New England Properties, Wallingford, Conn.
Rick Haase, President, Latter Blum REALTORS®, New Orleans, La.

Jim Imhoff: No matter the state of the market or the economy, buying a home is still one of life’s most important decisions—and most people faced with making it expect the same level of knowledge and integrity from their real estate agent as they expect from their medical doctors. That in itself is nothing new. It was foreseen and addressed more than 100 years ago when the founders of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) wrote the REALTOR® Code of Ethics into the fabric of our industry. Now, in the age of social media, with consumers searching for references and reviews on everything from dentists to mustard sauce, it is more critical than ever to the success of real estate professionals to be cited and recommended publicly as trusted, reliable advisors. That’s why the REALTOR® Code of Ethics has been our standard for over 100 years. So we are asking our panelists today—outstanding leaders known for their integrity—how we can ensure that our agents are living up to the standards set by the Code of Ethics that guarantee honest dealings with clients, the public and other REALTORS®? Sherry, what do you think?

Sherry Chris: I think there is nothing more important in our industry than the reputation of an agent and the brokerage he or she works with. Referrals, which are the lifeblood of our business, are a direct result of the ethical standards we demonstrate—and there’s no question the REALTOR® Code of Ethics is critical to keeping those standards high. It’s the reason we insist on mandatory Ethics training by every REALTOR®.

Candace Adams: The standards set by the Code are central to every transaction—so central that we laminate bookmarks and frame posters with the Articles of the Code as constant reminders to our agents. Although we have an on-staff attorney, every agent is held strictly accountable for knowing and maintaining the principles of the Code of Ethics.

Rick Haase: What the Code is, really, is a set of pledges for how REALTORS® will engage with each other and with the public—for example, with disclosure issues, or ensuring earning commissions is secondary to the needs and interests of clients. We govern ourselves, so that government and other entities don’t do it for us—because they will almost surely get it wrong.

JI: NAR’s Professional Standards Committee has the opportunity to consider potential changes to the Code twice a year, in May and November. These are all volunteers—members of the Interpretations and Procedures Advisory Board, staff at state and local associations, and REALTORS® who take the time to determine what issues might be addressed—so there are a lot of eyes and different groups involved at the national level to be sure the Code is updated and relevant. But complaints and alleged violations, as you know, are handled at state and local association levels. Do you think that’s important?

RH: Yes, issues should be handled locally. It’s the process you agree to when you join your local Board of REALTORS®, and it’s a process that works.

CA: Enforcement is important as well. Every REALTOR® must be held accountable.

SC: There is not much point in continuing education unless you are aware what can happen down the line if you do not maintain your obligations as an ethical, professional agent.

JI: On the other hand, it’s just as critical for brokers to recognize and reward quality service. In our company, based on customer surveys, we present agents with quality of service awards that have nothing to do with production—only with recognized service excellence.

RH: Times have changed, but our values haven’t, thanks to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. If anything, we keep updating our values with specific reference to issues like gender identification and sexual orientation as they relate to fair housing.

SC: NAR does a great job keeping us aware of expectations. As brokers, we need to look for creative ways to keep those standards top of mind. You said it, Jim—consumers trust us to help them make some of the most important decisions of their lives. We must aspire to the highest ideals so that we never violate that trust.

JI: Much more about the REALTOR® Code of Ethics can be found at www.REALTOR.org/code-of-ethics.

Mid-Ohio commercial real estate looking good

The Mansfield Association of Realtors does not require its members to submit commercial property listings into the Multiple Listing Service, although some members do. Because there is no requirement, the MLS cannot track accurate local data on commercial sales for Richland and Crawford counties. However, based on figures taken from the National Association of Realtors Research Division, MAR expects commercial sales, leasing and rents to increase in 2015.

Below is a look at the commercial outlook report from February 2015, where we base our optimism.

Commercial — Fundamentals improved in the fourth quarter 2014, with rising net absorption driving rents higher across the major property types. As employment gains are expected to continue into 2015, demand for commercial space is expected to advance.

The pace of advance likely will vary by property type. While office absorption is projected to total 47.7 million square feet in 2015, vacancy rates will continue a gradual decline to 15.7 percent by the end of the year. Office vacancies remain elevated because of continued gains in space-utilization efficiencies. Office rents are forecast to rise 3.3 percent in 2015.

Industrial markets — These have been benefiting from rising trade and the continued shift toward electronic commerce, both of which have led to strong demand for distribution warehouse space. Net absorption of industrial space is estimated to total 102.2 million square feet this year. With new supply projected to reach 82 million square feet, availability rates likely will decline to 8.3 percent by the fourth quarter. Industrial rents should experience a 3.0 percent gain for the year.

Retail markets — Retail markets are experiencing improvement at an uneven pace. Coastal markets remain top performers, displaying low vacancies and rising rents. However, space utilization is undergoing a transformation, as retail outlets are scaling back floor space in favor of e-commerce distribution channels. Absorption is expected to reach 15.7 million square feet nationally in 2015, lowering vacancies to 9.6 percent by the last quarter of the year. Rents are projected to rise 2.5 percent this year.

Multi-family — Demand is expected to remain strong, as the pace of household formation closes on historical averages. However, 2015 will mark the first year since the recession that supply likely will outpace demand. Apartment net absorption is estimated to reach 171,978 units in 2015. New apartment completions will add 230,411 units on the market this year. The volume of new space is expected to lead to an increase in apartment vacancies from 4.1 percent in the first quarter to 4.3 percent by the fourth quarter 2015. Rent growth is likely to slow from above 4.0 percent over the past few years to 3.7 percent in 2015.

Investment sales — Investment sales for properties in Realtor markets advanced 9.5 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2014. Prices rose 3.8 percent year-over-year during the period. Cap rates averaged 8.0 percent in the fourth quarter, a 23 basis point decline from the previous quarter and 167 basis point drop year-over-year.

Barbara Murray is executive officer of the Mansfield Association of Realtors.

PROPERTY INDEX RETURNS: 2014.Q4

NAR’S digital signature software benefit goes global

Digital signature software is a critical asset to today’s highly mobile paperless agent. The National Association of Realtors has been a long-term strategic partner with DocuSign for years and offers Realtors substantial discounts on their line of real estate digital signature products.

Now, DocuSign Professional Edition is available to NAR’s International Realtors as part of a global expansion of NAR’s member benefits. More than 5,000 Realtors overseas have been granted access to the same standard for digital signatures their colleagues here enjoy. With so many buyers and sellers transacting business outside the United States, this means all Realtors can use the same digital signature standard for any client anywhere in the world.

There are several major providers of digital signature software including EchoSign, Authentisign, Digital Ink, RightSignature and others. Many Realtor associations offer these and others as options to members so they have a choice. Although DocuSign isn’t the only option on the market, it definitely meets all the criteria to help an agent or brokerage move toward a paperless existence.

A product that works on every platform so you can quickly sign documents is important in conducting real estate business effectively. It improves customer service and reduces the need to be tied to a desktop or laptop computer. Additionally, I’ve found that being able to integrate with online cloud storage and my form editing software is also critical.

This new extension of benefits internationally should help both us and our colleagues abroad more effectively service our clients and each other.

Bryan Robertson is the co-founder and managing broker of Catarra Real Estate.

Email Bryan Robertson.

Share “Oklahoma boards rise to meet new standards…”

The newly betrothed are the Enid Metro Association of Realtors and Woodward Board of Realtors. In the process, the new broader association picked up the previously unassigned Panhandle. A new name is pending: Northwest Oklahoma Association of Realtors.

Apparently, it was a good match from the start. In other parts of the country, mergers of local boards have been more like shotgun weddings, with the state association playing the part of “angry Pa.”

Woodward had “a very small board. There were 40 people there in Woodward,” said Lisa Noon, CEO of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors. “Our Enid Association reached out to them and was able to offer them the services they needed in order to maintain their presence there in Woodward.”

Noon said no other mergers are in the works in the state — not that there’s not any woo being pitched.

“We’ll see what happens. I’m not sure how that’s going to play out,” she said Friday in The Oklahoman/NewsOK.com video studio.

In rural areas in other parts of the country, local boards have not taken the new requirements quietly even if they agree that they’re worthy.

It’s a matter of money and other resources. For example, one of the requirements is that all local boards of Realtors have a website. Four in Oklahoma didn’t, Noon said, so the state association helped them get online.

Noon said the state association has been working closely with local boards since the national board mandated the changes almost a year ago. She said the state and local board always worked well together, but the mandates brought improvements.

National real estate outlook poised for positive spin with pent-up housing …

The national real estate outlook is looking up after two consecutive years of economic improvement, underscored by pent-up demand for more housing, according to the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of research at the National Association of Realtors told real estate professionals Thursday (April 16) morning that the U.S. commercial real estate market is improving since its “near-death experience” great recession in 2008. He was speaking at the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors’ annual TRENDS in Real Estate seminar at the L’Auberge Casino Hotel in Baton Rouge.

And as “market conditions are improving from a very low base,” the pent-up demand for housing in the pipeline could give the market a boost. 

Yun says although the U.S. economy has statistically recovered from the great recession in 2011, gross domestic product is still at a low rate. 

The national GDP has grown at below a 3 percent rate, though ahead of economies in Japan and Europe. “On one hand we have had subpar economic activity. On the other hand, we are doing better than Europe,” Yun said. “On the other hand, we are growing every day.”

And the national employment rate is around 60 percent, not much higher than during the peak of the recession. 

Yun explains that even though the unemployment rate is saying the country is closer to pre-recession rates, the job rate tells a different story. “What is missing in this equation is people sitting on the couch at home and not looking for a job,” those who have dropped out of the job force altogether.

And when it comes to homeownership, nationally, new home purchases have declined by 2 million in the last decade and “as a result, home ownership is at a 20-year low.” Rental property, instead, has increased by 8 million. “What is going on here is we are becoming a renter’s nation,” Yun says.

But a few bright spots, he says, is that median home prices are considerably rising.  Considering the pent-up demand for housing, Yun noted that there are 37 billion more people living in the country, but real estate agents are selling the same amount–75 million–of homes it was in the year 2000. So, “We are set for a multi-year recovery because of that huge pent-up demand.” 

And locally in Baton Rouge, it’s a much more positive picture than across the country. Baton Rouge has about 60,000 more jobs today than in 2000, Yun says, and will add about 18,000 more through 2015. “The recession here was very shallow and the Baton Rouge economy has done much better than most other cities in the country.”

Check back with NOLA.com today for more updates from the annual TRENDS in Real Estate seminar.

. . . . . . .

Renita D. Young is a news reporter based in Baton Rouge. Email her at ryoung@nola.com or call 504.352.2548. You can also keep up with all of her local updates on Twitter @RenitaDYoung and on Facebook.

Free .REALTOR Domains Expanded To Local & State Realtor® Associations …

“The National Association of Realtors® top-level domain .REALTOR will be available to local and state Realtor® associations as well as brokerages in the U.S. and Canada starting May 7.

State and Local REALTOR® Member Boards, and REALTOR® owned and operated MLSs have the opportunity to receive a FREE .REALTOR domain for up to 5 years”

Since the .REALTOR top-level domain became available to NAR members in October 2014, more than 95,000 domains have been claimed on a free basis.

.Realtor has originally said they would give away the first 500,000 domain names, one per licensed person so they have 405,000 free domain names that have gone unclaimed

“Now boards, associations and brokerages will have the opportunity to register for the domain, which lets consumers instantly know that they are working within the Realtor® community, the most trusted source for real estate information and with agents who subscribe to NAR’s strict Code of Ethics.

“Early adoption of new technology is a vital part of how Realtors® conduct business, and NAR is committed to staying on the forefront of the latest online tools,” said NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. “We hope associations and brokerages can take advantage of the .REALTOR domain to create an online space where home buyers, sellers and investors, as well as Realtors®, can go to find the most trustworthy, reliable real estate services and resources.”

NAR has also entered into an exclusive marketing partnership with the Canadian Real Estate Association, the exclusive licensors of the Realtor® mark in Canada. CREA associations and boards will also be able to use the domain to provide consumers in Canada with the same advantages.

NAR made an early commitment to adopt this technology and began applying for the .REALTOR top-level domain eight years ago through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the organization that coordinates domains and Internet Protocol addresses around the world.

Throughout the entire process, NAR worked closely with Second Generation subsidiary Real Estate Domains, LLC, an investment firm and registry operator for the top-level domain .JOBS.

For more information on claiming the .REALTOR domain, which is available to associations and brokerages starting May 7 at 10 a.m. CDT, visit www.about.REALTOR.

The Canadian Real Estate Association is one of Canada’s largest single-industry trade associations, representing more than 111,000 Realtors® working through some 90 real estate boards and associations.

Second Generation Ltd (“Second Gen”), headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is the owner of the .JOBS top-level domain.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. “

About The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

CHICAGO, April 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ – The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), America’s largest trade association, and DocuSign, Inc. (DocuSign®), The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management®, extended their strategic partnership by announcing that DocuSign Professional Edition is now available to International REALTOR® Members at a discounted rate. DocuSign helps REALTORS® close more deals faster with a better client experience by eliminating the hassles, costs and lack of security in printing, faxing, scanning, overnighting and driving around town to complete real estate transactions.

DocuSign Logo

DocuSign Professional enables real estate professionals and brokerages to securely prepare, execute and manage an unlimited amount of custom-branded documents digitally from anywhere, anytime, on any device. With this offering, brokerages and REALTORS® globally can accelerate business, improve security and compliance, and deliver clients a best-in-class buying and selling experience—regardless of where the client is buying or selling property.

Building on DocuSign’s announcement last December that the company will open three new data centers in the European Union, DocuSign’s new offer to International REALTOR® Members further accelerates the company’s worldwide expansion and broadens The DocuSign Global Trust Network. DocuSign serves more than 100,000 customers and more than 50 million users worldwide through offices in Chicago, Dublin, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Seattle, and Sydney.

QUOTES

  • “As the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ Official and Exclusive provider of electronic signature services under the REALTOR Benefits® Program, DocuSign’s platform has been helping NAR members in the United States accelerate business and delight clients for years,” said Jeff Hornberger, director global alliances at NAR. “We’re thrilled to extend this exclusive offer internationally so REALTORS® and their clients can benefit from the same ease-of-use, mobility and security of DocuSign Professional no matter where they are in the world.”
  • “The National Association REALTORS® is an early and very strategic partner to DocuSign,” said DocuSign’s Chief Strategy Officer Tom Gonser. “We’re thrilled to bring the power of DocuSign to REALTORS® and brokerages around the world to modernize the home buying and selling process for everyone involved.”

To learn more about this exclusive offer, visit https://secure.docusign.com/landing/real-estate/IntREALTORS, or for additional information about DocuSign in real estate, https://www.docusign.com/solutions/industries/real-estate.

Contact:
Kristin Treat
DocuSign, Inc.
1 (206) 576-8084
kristin.treat@docusign.com

About The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
The National Association of REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

About DocuSign, Inc.
DocuSign® is The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management®. DocuSign helps more than 100,000 companies across nearly every industry and department make their digital transformation by putting an end to the paper chase. More than 50 million people in 188 countries turn to DocuSign to manage their most important transactions—digitally. DocuSign’s DTM platform supports legally compliant signature processes tailored to meet requirements globally with localization in 43 languages. Every day more than 50,000 new users join The DocuSign Global Trust Network to increase speed to results, reduce costs, enhance security and compliance, and delight clients with a secure digital experience. For more information, visit www.docusign.com or call 877.720.2040.

DocuSign offers transaction management services and is the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Official and Exclusive provider of electronic signature services under the REALTOR Benefits® Program.

Copyright 2003-2015. DocuSign, Inc. is the owner of DOCUSIGN® and all of its other marks, www.docusign.com/IP. All other marks appearing herein are the property of their respective owners.

Logo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140904/143283

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/national-association-of-realtors-and-docusign-extend-realtor-benefits-globally-300065009.html

SOURCE DocuSign, Inc.

NAR and DocuSign Take Strategic Partnership Global







• NAR’s 3,000 International REALTOR® members benefit from DocuSign Professional at discounted rate;
• Same offer available to NAR members in the US is enabling International REALTOR® members to digitally prepare, send and sign unlimited custom-branded documents;
• DocuSign is the exclusive eSignature solution of NAR and is used by real estate professionals to accelerate business, increase security, and offer the best-in-class home buying and selling experience.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), America’s largest trade association, and DocuSign, Inc. (DocuSign®) further their strategic partnership by announcing today that DocuSign Professional is now available to 3,000 International REALTOR® members at a discounted rate.

DocuSign Professional enables real estate professionals and brokerages to securely prepare, execute and manage an unlimited amount of custom-branded documents digitally from anywhere, anytime, on any device. With this offering, brokerages and REALTORS® outside the United States can accelerate business, improve security and compliance, and deliver clients a best-in-class buying and selling experience regardless of whether the client is purchasing internationally or doing domestic transactions at a brokerage in another country.

QUOTES

“As the exclusive eSignature solution for the National Association of REALTORS®, DocuSign’s platform has been helping NAR members in the United States accelerate business for years,” said NAR’s Director Global Alliances Jeff Hornberger. “We are thrilled to extend this exclusive offer internationally so REALTORS® and their clients can benefit from the same ease-of-use, mobility, and security of DocuSign Professional from around the world.”
“The National Association REALTORS® is an early and very strategic partner to DocuSign,” said DocuSign’s Chief Strategy Officer Tom Gonser. “We are thrilled to bring the power of DocuSign to REALTORS® and brokerages around the world to modernize the home buying and selling process.”

About The National Association of REALTORS®
The National Association of REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

About DocuSign, Inc.
DocuSign® (docusign.com) is The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management®. DocuSign helps more than 100,000 companies across nearly every industry and department make their digital transformation by putting an end to the paper chase. More than 50 million people in 188 countries turn to DocuSign to manage their most important transactions digitally. DocuSign’s DTM platform supports legally compliant signature processes tailored to meet requirements globally with localization in 43 languages. Every day more than 50,000 new users join The DocuSign Global Trust Network to increase speed to results, reduce costs, enhance security and compliance, and delight clients with a secure digital experience.

DocuSign offers transaction management services and is the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Official and Exclusive provider of electronic signature services under the REALTOR Benefits® Program.

Copyright 2003-2015. DocuSign, Inc. is the owner of DOCUSIGN® and all of its other marks, docusign.com/IP. All other marks appearing herein are the property of their respective owners.

12 Tips for Spring Homebuying in a Seller's Market

With spring finally here for most of the nation, prospective homebuyers can look at houses and condos without traipsing through snow and ice. Better weather, plus the traditional belief that families search for homes so they can move in between school years, makes spring a major homebuying season in much of the country.

“Especially considering this winter, we’re expecting a very busy spring season,” says Daniel Hedaya, president of Platinum Properties in New York City. “We’re already seeing an uptick.”

The biggest challenge facing homebuyers in many markets may be finding a home to buy. The inventory of available homes for sale remains low in many cities, especially in certain price ranges.

At the end of February, according to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors, there was nearly a five-month supply of homes available for sale, slightly below the number available a year earlier. That means that, at the current sales rate, it would take five months to sell all the listed homes. That’s a nationwide average, and the supply is even tighter in many cities. A six-month supply is considered a balanced market.

“Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices to near unsuitable levels,” said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the NAR, in a news release. “Stronger price growth is a boon for homeowners looking to build additional equity, but it continues to be an obstacle for current buyers looking to close before rates rise.”

The median price of a home sold in February was 7.5 percent above the median price a year previously, according to NAR data.

A seller’s market means that buyers have to be smart and prepared if they want to get the right house at the right price. Agents suggest that prospective buyers start by looking online at homes, narrowing down neighborhood choices and deciding between must-have and preferred features.

At the same time, buyers should visit a mortgage professional and get their financing in order. It’s best to start that process before you start looking at homes, in case your credit needs repair or you need to pay off debts to qualify for a mortgage. In a competitive market, agents may not even show homes to buyers who don’t have a mortgage preapproval.

A desirable listing may be sold in days or hours, meaning there is no time to organize financing or mull over preferred features before making an offer.

“Any market here in the Midwest is very fast-paced right now,” says Missy Price, an agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes. “If they do see the property that they want and they love, they’re going to have to act on it.”

It’s also important to know how much house you can afford before you get started. Looking at more expensive houses and then scaling down several thousand dollars often leads to disappointment. “I do not like to show somebody out of their price range unless the house is terribly overpriced,” says Sharon Voss, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association and an agent with Watson Realty Corp. “You get people prequalified, and you’re not going to have a problem.”

Here are 12 tips for buying a home this spring:

Get mortgage prequalification or, even better, preapproval before you start shopping. This helps you know what you can afford and makes your offer much stronger in the eyes of a seller. In a competitive situation, you may even consider waiving the mortgage contingency clause, which is something you want to avoid unless you are sure you can get the loan. “In New York City, it’s always advisable to see if you can go in without a financial contingency,” Hedaya says. “It’s a market that’s dominated by cash.”

Find a good agent. Using a real estate agent costs buyers nothing because the seller pays the real estate commission. Ask friends, family and co-workers for referrals. Look for a full-time agent who works often in the neighborhoods where you’re looking. You may want to interview several agents to find a good fit. If you can only look for homes on weekends, for example, you don’t want an agent who takes weekends off.

Do your research. Use the Internet and apps from major portals such as Zillow, Trulia and Redfin to research neighborhoods and asking prices for the type of home you want. But you should keep in mind that you’re not always getting a complete picture.

Visit neighborhoods you’re considering at different times of day. A neighborhood that’s quiet during the middle of the workday may be noisy and crowded at night and on weekends. Get out and walk the streets, talking to people who live in the neighborhood, visiting shops and restaurants and “trying out” your desired location. Drive to and from work during commuting hours to get an idea of what a typical day might be like.

Expect to provide lots of documentation to get a mortgage. Since the recession, mortgage lenders have become much stricter about documentation, income verification and other paperwork. Well-qualified buyers can still get a mortgage, with rates for 30-year loans at 3.66 percent last week. “Borrowing has become much, much more difficult,” says Steve Roney, CEO and owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Utah Properties. “It has become a much more cumbersome process.”

Separate your needs from your wants. In a competitive market, most buyers find they have to compromise on location, amenities or condition of home. It’s easier to make a choice when you know going in which features you must have and which you’d like to have but can live without. “Be flexible,” Hedaya says. “Be prepared to compromise.”

Be ready to move fast. A well-located house in good condition and priced right will sell quickly, sometimes the first day it goes on the market. You need to be ready to make a decision when you find a home you like. “You have to be prepared to act fast because we’re seeing bidding wars,” Price says. “If they don’t know what they want, the property is going to be gone.”

Don’t expect to get a smoking deal. The days of getting a house at a discount are long gone. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever get a substantial discount on a house that needs work, is in a less popular location or otherwise is in less demand. But in a seller’s market, there is usually very little negotiating room on price.

Understand that no house is perfect. Making your offer contingent on a home inspection is a good move, but all homes have small defects. Many sellers won’t fix anything, and there is no reason for them to if there is a backup offer waiting if you walk away. “You can’t nitpick a house,” Voss says. “It is a used house.”

Find a way to sweeten your offer. Most buyers can’t pay all cash, but there are ways beyond price to make your offer more attractive to a seller. Have your agent ask the seller’s agent if he would like a faster or slower closing. Consider whether you can waive mortgage or inspection contingencies (which does not mean forgoing an inspection), go without a seller-provided warranty or otherwise improve the deal from the seller’s perspective.

Don’t buy more than you can afford. Lenders will often approve a buyer for a higher payment than he or she can make comfortably. When you’re calculating what you can afford to pay, remember that a mortgage payment is only part of the cost of homeownership. “Buyers should make sure they’re taking into account all the secondary costs,” Roney says, including insurance, taxes, lawn maintenance, condo or homeowners association fees, repairs and even furniture.

Don’t buy a house you don’t love. While most buyers may have to compromise on some of the features they wanted, they shouldn’t settle for a home they don’t like. If you don’t find the right home this year, maybe you should rent and try again later rather than make a purchase you’ll regret. “Make sure that you have a really strong emotional attachment to what you want to buy,” Roney says. “Make sure you love it before you buy it.”