Right now is an ideal time to buy real estate in the Greater Baltimore area,
according to Tyler Banks of Charm City Builders. But in a time when the housing market is so hot, it is important for prospective buyers to understand the best strategies for finding a deal.
“The market is absolutely on fire right now,” Banks says. “There’s a lot of
opportunity to purchase here in Baltimore at a price significantly lower than in surrounding cities, like Washington, D.C. or Northern Virginia. You can find property at a much lower price and interest rates are much lower, too.”
Buyers are more informed than ever in an era where most information is available at your fingertips through various online sources. However, the internet cannot be the end-all-be-all.
“Given electronic access to information, a lot of people feel savvy,” says Carol Gould of Coldwell Banker, who focuses on Baltimore City and County. “I think it is great that people do preliminary searches with that information to get a sense of the range and narrow areas of focus. However, I think we need to recognize that there are times when there are errors online.”
Each real estate professional that we talked to explained that while conducting research from home is great, it is important to connect with a real estate agent or broker before committing to a property. For one, professionals in the field will have the most accurate information at any given time—and are often kept abreast of properties coming to the market before they are listed publicly.
“I would go by certain zip codes that you’re looking for property in,” says Charlie Hatter, a co-owner of Baltimore-based Monument Sotheby Realty. “Go to active listings and see what agent or brokerage firm has the most listings in that area and research the right professionals. They’ll negotiate based on knowledge and experience. Most every agent knows the others, and they’ll work together for common goals.”
Once you identify the area where you want to buy and find a property you like, it’s essential to bring in an agent to establish a price. That professional relationship will pay off when it comes to negotiating.
“Once that rapport is built, you have a connection as opposed to someone just firing off an offer,” Banks says. “The best way to find a deal is to identify the right team to get you the right opportunities. A good agent will have relationships with developers and builders and most of them will have the inside information on what is available—a lot of deals are made prior to the market. If you have the right team, you will have properties that are available before they hit the market which makes it a lot more flexible and provides more opportunities to find things affordably.”
Another reason to work with a real estate agent is because local professionals work with the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors to access its database of listings, which has thorough information about properties, Gould explains. “The agent will put together a very comprehensive analysis of other (properties) in that area including a range of square footage, the conditions, etc. to offer comparable prices and properties to a buyer.”
Gould adds, “It’s so accurate because agents are fined or penalized when they don’t record accurate information. It’s a more reliable source than other internet-accessible databases.
“Not to be critical of them, but people aren’t held accountable for misinformation on those public sites, so the database is a very valuable tool to be referencing.
“We agents pay to have the privilege to access that.”