Laurel Abbott

In a market in which demand is far outpacing inventory, it’s important for home buyers to do everything they can to be ready to make an offer, or several offers as the case may be. Getting your financials together and having a pre-approval letter in hand is essential to the offer process.

Frankly, you shouldn’t even get in the car to look at homes until you have that letter in hand. You’ll only get disappointed by the properties you lose or discouraged when you discover that you can’t get approved for the price you had hoped for. Many sellers will not accept offers that are made without this documentation, and they often require a verification of downpayment and the funds to close, as well. Although the contract doesn’t require this to be delivered until seven days from acceptance, it’s important to have that ready to provide immediately.

Be ready and flexible to go view a house at a moment’s notice. There are situations in which a house can only be shown during a small window of time and you need to be prepared to jump when those opportunities arise. Sometimes, your Realtor will be on caravan (our broker tour of homes) and is viewing a house that doesn’t quite match your ideal parameters, but it’s something you need to see. We look at dozens of houses a week; if we’re asking you to run over to see something, there’s a reason.

Talk to your boss and co-workers. Let them know that you are trying to buy a house and that you may need to duck out for unscheduled breaks to view a home. Remind them that the sooner you acquire a home, the sooner you’ll be fully back to work and not surfing all day.

We’re seeing “delayed sales” more often in our marketplace. This means there is a viewing period of a couple of days or weeks before offers will be reviewed. It’s still best to be the first one in the door so you can decide if this is the right house for you and take that time to be sure “it’s the one.”

Don’t wait until that perfect house comes on the market, be prepared for it when it does. Contact a local Realtor to assist you with your home search.

Laurel Abbott is a real estate agent with Prudential California Realty and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at or 805.879.8050. The opinions expressed are her own.