We just recently bought a new house in Bentonville. After living in the same house in Pea Ridge for thirteen years, we were not prepared for how intense house shopping would be this time around. The market in Northwest Arkansas moves very quickly and honestly the process was a little discouraging at times. I wanted to share a few things that I hope might help you if you are currently shopping for your next home in this area.
- Start by searching online. I began looking online for homes months before we were actually ready to list our house and move. This helped us narrow down the things we wanted in a home and to find which areas of NWA would work for us. This saved us countless hours of dragging the kids around to open houses and showings for homes that weren’t what we were looking for. It also gave us a good idea of what the market was doing. We got a better idea of how long homes were staying on the market, and how much we should expect to pay for what we wanted. I signed up to get emails from Zillow.com. Each day I received an email of “homes I might be interested in” which was super helpful. We actually found our new home through one of these emails and were able to act quickly to schedule a showing.
- Make a list of your non-negotiables for your new home. Shopping online really helped us to formulate this list. We came up with guidelines for how big the back yard was, the kitchen layout, number of garage spots, etc. that we couldn’t live without. This also saved us time when it came to deciding to request a showing or not. Amazingly, we bought the first house we actually toured because it was the first house that met every single one of our requirements.
- Make sure you have a realtor that is working for you. Unfortunately, we had a very poor experience with our selling realtor. So much so that we did not use the same person to purchase our new home. We were so happy when our buying realtor provided us with good communication, attention to detail, and excellent customer service. We felt like she was really on our side, and was advocating to get us the best deal and best house for our family. If you don’t feel like you have a realtor that is truly looking out for your best interest, I suggest switching. It may be uncomfortable to part ways, but having a good realtor goes a long way toward lowering your stress and making the experience more enjoyable all the way around.
- Narrow your search down to a few neighborhoods you feel would be a good fit. Just like with the house requirements, do some research to see which areas of NWA are your top choices. There are several Facebook pages and groups you can post in to get some great feedback on subdivisions you might be interested in. Looking on websites to get information about schools nearby, POA dues, and proximity to places your family frequents makes narrowing down the location of your new home a little easier.
- Tell people you know that you are looking. You never know who’s friend’s cousin’s sister is selling your dream home. You might know it’s about to go on the market before anyone else, putting you first in line. This brings me to tip #6.
- Be ready to act fast. You would not believe how fast some houses in NWA are selling. We had showings scheduled only 45 minutes after our house went on the market. Within seven days, we had accepted an offer. Several of my friends sold their homes this summer in less than 24 hours. If you are interested in a home, don’t hesitate. I actually have a friend who was standing in a house, ready to make an offer, when they received word that someone from out-of-state who hadn’t even seen the house in person, had just made an offer over asking price. Be sure to have everything in order so you can present your offer the minute you decide on the house you want.
- Include an offer letter. I had actually never thought about this, but our realtor suggested writing a letter to go with our offer. I simply told the owners why we loved their home, how we appreciated the work they had put into making it look beautiful, and why it was the perfect house for us and our four boys. They loved our personal touch, and I think it helped them stick with our offer even when other good offers came rolling in.
I hope some of these tips will be helpful as you look for your new home. Happy house hunting!