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How to successfully buy a condo in Miami in a seller's market

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Buying a condo can be challenging in a seller's market. It's essential to know what to expect and avoid to make the best purchase decision possible. Here are some tips on buying a condo in a seller's market.




In this article




Understand what a seller's market means

In a seller's market, it's essential to understand what that means for you as a potential condo buyer. A seller's market means less than three months of inventory, which would take less than three months to sell through the current inventory.

Buyer's Market: A buyer's market means more than six months of inventory.

Seller's market: A seller's market means less than three months of inventory.

Neutral market: A neutral market means three to six months of inventory.


Typically, sellers will have the advantage in negotiations since there are more buyers than sellers. A seller's market can lead to bidding wars and prices above the asking price.




A few things to keep in mind in a seller's market

When buying a condo in a seller's market:

  • Be prepared to act fast

  • Be flexible on your must-haves

  • Don't be afraid to negotiate

  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage beforehand

  • Be open to making an offer without seeing the unit in person

  • Your offer may not be accepted, and you may have to make offers on a few condos before getting an offer accepted

Many online listings will be in "active" status but may be under contract when searching for listings.


Know what you're looking for in a condo

When buying a condo in a seller's market, it's essential to know what you're looking for. Things to keep in mind:

  • Location: Make sure the condo is in a desirable location. Check out the neighborhood and make sure it fits your lifestyle.

  • Size: Make sure to pick a condo that's the right size. You don't want to end up with a unit that's too small or too large.

  • Amenities: Check out the amenities the condo offers and make sure they fit your needs.

You can identify a line in a condo building and keep an eye out for new listings in that line to make an offer quickly without seeing the unit in person.


Have your finances in order

If you're buying a condo in a seller's market, it's essential to have your finances in order. Ensure that you have enough money to cover the down payment and closing costs. Also, getting pre-approved for a mortgage will show the seller that you're serious about buying their condo and ready to close the deal.


Around half of the condo purchases in Miami are cash, so you may be up against cash buyers, which can be challenging. So it would help if you had a strong pre-approval from a reputable, preferably local lender. You may have to put 25% down for a primary loan and 30% for an investment loan when purchasing most condos in Miami. A local lender may have a list of condos that you can put less down, which can help you narrow down your search.


Scout out potential condos to buy

Scout out potential condos to buy in the area you are interested in. Look for a condo in a good location with ample amenities and is within your budget. Identifying the neighborhood you want to be in, and the buildings you will consider living in will help you make quick decisions when new listings hit the market.


Make an offer on the condo you want

When buying a condo in a seller's market, it's essential to make an offer on the condo you want. Don't lowball the offer, but make sure it's reasonable and within your budget. If priced correctly, you may need to make an offer at asking or even over asking. There's a good chance of other offers that will cause a bidding war.


When it's a seller's market, you have to make your offer appealing to owners. Cash offers are ideal for sellers as cash offers can close faster and generally without the hiccups that loan purchases cause. Lenders have their guidelines and aren't contingent on appraisals or the ability to get the loan approved.

Here are a few ways to make your offer better:

  • Waive the inspection period. This is a got to move for many offers. However, I recommend against it. Instead, shorten the inspection period. We'll cover this in the next section.

  • Put more funds into escrow and accompany your offer with an escrow letter. Typically buyers put around 3% of the purchase price into escrow; putting more into escrow shows the seller that you're very serious and capable of making the purchase. Also, having the funds in escrow when making an offer can help as well.

Also, be prepared to move quickly if the offer is accepted – in a seller's market, there are often many buyers competing for the same condo.


Get the condo inspected no matter what

When buying a condo is to get it inspected, no matter what. Even if the condo looks perfect, there could be some severe problems that you're not aware of. Again, instead of waiving an inspection to make your offer more appealing, make the period shorter and contact an inspector to ensure you can have it inspected during that period.


Appraisal gaps

When buying a condo in a seller's market, it's essential to be aware of the potential appraisal gaps. An appraisal gap is when the condo appraises for less than the purchase price. This can happen when there is a lot of interest in buying condos in a specific area, and the sellers know they can ask for more. You will have to come up with extra cash to make up the difference between the appraised value and the purchase price.


Avoid price gouging

Beware of the potential for price gouging in a seller's market. If you're not careful, you could pay way more than you need for your condo. There are ways to avoid this, though.

  • First, try to work with a real estate agent who specializes in condos in the area you're interested in. A professional real estate agent will be able to help you negotiate a fair price.

  • Second, don't be afraid to walk away from a deal if the price isn't right. There are plenty of other condos, and you don't want to overpay for one.


You will see overpriced condos as some, and they typically sit on the market for some time even though it's a seller's market. Some condo sellers may not be as motivated to sell and are just looking to see if they can sell at a specific price. Or they may be unrealistic.


Special Assessments

One thing to watch out for is special assessments. Special assessments are charges that the condo association levies against all unit owners to cover repairs or improvements to the building. These assessments can be significant, and they can surprise buyers who are not aware of them.


In a seller's market, sellers may be selling a unit and require the buyer to cover the special assessment because it's a seller's market. I recommend that you get more information regarding the assessment and negotiate. If the special assessment is significant, over $10k, you should ask the seller to cover the fee or pay half.


Conclusion

Buying a condo can be tricky in a seller's market. It's important to know what to look for and avoid to make the best purchase decision possible. Here are some tips on buying a condo in a seller's market that will help you make the most of this competitive housing market.

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