While the market has settled slightly since the summer 2021 peak, inventory throughout the DMV and country remains slim. Nationwide active listings have declined by more than 20 percent and as we approach winter, a traditionally lower inventory time of year, it’s unlikely the listing rate will surge anytime soon. The good news is the market is still moving and has slightly stabilized since spring 2020, so while you may need to make some compromises, you still have options. But how do you know what ground to stick and where to bend? Here’s a quick list of considerations.
Your search radius
When you start looking for a new home in the DMV, you likely have some idea of the area you’re interested in. With low inventory, you may need to consider expanding that radius a bit to find more options. Do so with caution: remember, you can change a lot of things about your new home, but you can’t change it to be closer to work, amenities, or different schools.
Before you fall in love with a home, look carefully at the listing information and map out your must-have amenities to confirm whether the commute is truly something you’re able to do and to ensure the schools and other must-haves for your family are viable.
Must-have versus wants list
Anyone who has ever taken on a home search has done so with an idea of what they want. But if your list started with a detailed assortment of features, you’ll likely need to revisit that list.
Some buyers are quick to change their square footage demands, for example, while others may prioritize things like the age of a home or lot size. Remember the home needs to work for you—but while things like walls are more likely to stay fixed, certain things, like flooring or paint colors, are all updatable.
In general, look for a footprint and floorplan that you like—and move the aesthetics to the wants.
As we’ve seen over the past couple of years, the buyers’ market is competitive and homes—even those that aren’t ideal—commonly get multiple offers. The difference between getting the home and getting outbid comes down to not only the asking price but numerous other concessions that you may not be able to afford or willing to make. Have an in-depth discussion with your realtor about what they’ve seen work and set your limits in advance. Finding that next home can make it all too tempting to reach out of your comfort zone—in most cases, it’s best not to.
New build versus existing home
While the list of existing home listings remains in short supply, there are numerous areas throughout the greater Washington, D.C., metro with new communities and new homes. While these may take longer to move into given build time, you might find more success in securing a contract for a home that meets your needs. Start by taking a look at move-in-ready homes throughout the area, or sign up for email alerts about upcoming neighborhoods, trends, and more.
While you’ll make compromises any time you buy a home, this low inventory cycle may make it particularly challenging. Consider your options and know your priorities to find which concessions will successfully lead you to your next home.