Everybody loves a bargain. But getting one handed to you, gift-wrapped, in this housing market? Fat chance.
Limited inventory has boosted prices, and in many cities, sellers have the big end of the stick. It’s rare to see buyers scoring a fabulous house in a desirable neighborhood for thousands of dollars under asking price.
So to save some cash, you might feel compelled to make some compromises, try to negotiate, and look for the hidden bargains.
But beware of taking your thriftiness too far—because you just might regret it. Read on for eight times bargain hunting can actually backfire.
1. Working alone instead of with an agent
Thinking of just doing this thing on your own? Don’t.
Find homes for sale on
Enter your zip code
“When we talk to clients about the deadly mistakes home buyers make when purchasing a home, No. 1 is buying a home without representation,” says Brian Cournoyer, a Realtor® with DeSelms Real Estate in Franklin, TN.
First, it’s important to know that you won’t save anything by skipping the buyer’s agent, because that cost isn’t on you. Typically the seller pays the commission for both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent.
And if you consider yourself a master negotiator, or think you can search for homes just as well as the next guy, know this: Agents have a host of training and tools designed to find the right properties and get you the best deal.
“Everyone thinks they can go online and pull up comps, but they don’t have access to all the real-time information that agents do,” Cournoyer says.
2. Assuming you can get a deal on a short sale
OK, so most sellers are in the driver’s seat. But what about sellers who need to offload their home fast? There’s gotta be some of those out there, right?
Jen Birmingham, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker in Petaluma, CA, says one of the biggest mistakes she sees is people counting on short sales to snag a bargain.
“Because home values are way above where they were when a lot of people were underwater, short sales are few and far between right now,” she says. “Buyers need to know that what was working six years ago is no longer applicable.”
3. Making big compromises just to score a deal
Buying a home that doesn’t have enough bedrooms, is located two hours from your work, or needs a mountain of money to make it livable is no bargain, even if its list price is far below your budget.
The trouble is, in a hot market, buyers often ignore these blazing-red flags, Birmingham says.
“What I see is a lot of people wanting so desperately to get into the market that they’re willing to make compromises that may have originally been deal breakers,” she says.
Think carefully about your must-haves, and do your best to stick to the list.