Realtor offers tips for buying a home amid 'frenzy' in Tampa Bay housing market

It’s a story Marvin McGuire knows all too well. You see a house that just hit the market – it checks off all of your boxes – and when you think you’ve made a good offer, it doesn’t pan out.

"The seller will get 20 or 30 offers, and we’ve gotten so many letters saying, ‘Hey, thank you for your offer, it’s very strong but the seller decided to go with another one,’" he said. 

The 26-year-old has been house hunting long enough to put 10 offers in on home. He’s been outbid every time.

It’s reality for McGuire and many other locals attempting to buy a house in Tampa’s current hot market.

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Tampa realtor Vincent Arcuri says the pandemic is why so many are moving from the north to sunny – and state-income-tax-free – Florida.

"It’s in a frenzy, it kind of looks like 2005 all over again," he said. "The people that are local are really getting shut out – the traditional buyer is getting shut out – because people from the north are coming with an abundance of cash, and paying with cash for the properties."

Cash, he says, is key. But if you can’t go that route, make sure you come in pre-approved – not pre-qualified – for a mortgage.

"In other words, work with your lender – get all of your tax returns in – be approved, and be an approved mortgage looking for a home, as opposed to just a pre-qualification letter," he explained.

You can also add in escalation clauses with dollar amounts – which is what McGuire has done. 

"Say you have a standard house that’s listed for a quarter of a million dollars," McGuire said. "That clause basically says I’m going to offer for the listing price, and then compete and attempt to go higher than any other offers, up to $275,000."

With some houses going $50,000 over asking price, Arcuri says he’s also telling buyers to move up inspection periods or waive an inspection altogether.

"Just get a general contractor to look at the home to make sure there’s no major structural issues," he continued. "That’s the biggest hurdle that the seller is looking for you to get over."

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And the advice that has endured the most over his 30-year career – don’t lose the faith.

"We are writing these offers and it’s the sixth of seventh time they’re writing an offer before they get a home, but many times it was actually the best house and really fantastic that it was the seventh, because they found the perfect home for their family," he said. 

Arcuri says one thing buyers cannot do is write a letter to the seller, appealing to their emotions to choose them over other bidders.

The board of realtors outlawed writing letters like that and now it is a violation of ethics.