Home Buyers Guide: Competing In Today’s Housing Horse Race

The Reality

Today I stopped into a North Arlington open house, a 4 bedroom colonial  in great shape, listed for $879k. The property went on the market 3 days ago. Today it went under contract before the first open house even began.

Another home this week, listed at $1.425m, also in North Arlington, built in 2006, was under contract in 6 days.

This type of thing is not at all uncommon, and has been happening for the last few years.

What This Means For Buyers

Buyers in today’s Northern Virginia and DC market need to be ready to pull the trigger. Not all homes are selling this quickly, but that is the point really. Many of the homes on the market these days are not meeting people’s expectations and so a number of them are being passed on and do actually sit on the market for much longer periods of time. When the right homes do become available these buyers have been out and actively searching for a while, so when they see them, they know it, and there is a rush to be the first offer.

Because these Northern Virginia and DC buyers are standing at the ready to snatch up the best of the best, any new buyers entering the market need to get to the same level of readiness as quickly as possible. If you search online on your own, find a home that looks interesting, and then try to get organized the home will be gone. Many of the best homes don’t even make it to the first open house, and the ones that do don’t make it through that Sunday night.

So How Do I Prepare

  1. Get pre-approved/pre-qualified
  2. Get with an agent asap (I don’t care if that’s me or not by the way, just do it)
  3. Go through all the listings that you find together that match your criteria and select the top 5
  4. Get out to see those top 5 ASAP.
  5. If you didn’t see “the one” (likely the case) revisit the best of the listings you dismissed. Go out again.
  6. Watch new listings like a hawk, and be ready to leave work a bit early to see them. Let your superiors know ahead of time that you are shopping, and the realities of the market. (Wait until the weekend and the good ones are gone, or already have multiple offers)
  7. Stay with 6 until “the one” comes on the market.

Without step 1 you are not ready to write a valid offer, really you don’t even know what your budget is or could/should be. Without steps 2-5 YOU (mentally/emotionally) are not likely ready to write an offer quickly enough.


Come into today’s market armed and ready to take action if you hope to score a move-in ready home.

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