10 unconventional strategies for buying a home in a hot market

Homes & real estate
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10 unconventional strategies for buying a home in a hot market

Homes & real estate

If you're constantly coming in second place when shopping for a home, try one of these 10 non-standard techniques to help you win the prize and a new address.

It’s oh-so-frustrating, but also oh-so-true: the best home mortgages are of no use if you’re constantly getting beat out by other home buyers.

You might think that saving a bit longer will put you in a stronger position, but home prices and interest rates are still expected to climb next year so you may find yourself in essentially the same position as you are today, but with a potentially more expensive home loan.

So what’s a would-be home buyer to do when they’re just a bit too underfunded to go toe-to-toe with the better-heeled competition?

Simple: when the home buying gets tough, the tough get creative.

Here are ten tips for nailing your first home down in a tight market:

1) Co-buying
Whether it’s a business partner, family member—who isn’t your spouse—or friend, finding someone to share the expenses—if not the actual house—is a growing means of ownership.

2) Buy One, Rent One. With a Duplex.
These aren’t as common, and usually, go for more than a single-family property, but they can be a clever option for some. You’ll have a place to live as well as an investment property all under one, shared roof.

3) Go Big
It may be just you and your significant other, but if you bought a larger home with extra bedrooms, or a finished basement or attic, or even a mother-in-law cottage in the back, you could rent them out to help make your monthly payments.

4) Downsize Your Budget
If there’s nothing available at a price you can manage, try looking one rung down, especially if it’s a fixer-upper. You can get a loan that includes money to improve the home and gain more equity in addition to a nicer home than you started with.

5) Go Mobile
The days of flimsy tin shacks are long gone. New mobile home designs and building practices allow you to buy a home of the same square footage for almost half of what you would with a detached home. Even better, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both recently announced they would back loans for mobile homes as long as they have “characteristics like regular houses built on site.”

6) Attend an Auction
Never buy a house sight unseen, but if you’re willing to do a little homework and aren’t afraid of applying some elbow grease (no one sells perfectly fine homes at an auction), an auction might be a worthwhile alternative.

7) Alternative Financing
If you’re looking in a rural (not necessarily “country”) area, zero-down financing is available through certain programs.

8) Cash and Carry (the Day)
Granted, this one only works if you already have all of the money necessary, but if you do you can frequently trump a financed offer since there’s no worry about the loan not getting approved.

9) Go Above and Beyond
If you’re looking in a price-range below your limits and you’re still getting edged out, consider offering a few thousand above the asking price. Most of the other bidders will likely be at their limits and so won’t be able to match you.

10) Kick It Into High Gear
The longer a home is on the market, the more money the seller is spending. If you get all of the time-consuming paperwork out of the way up front—or even waive the inspection (yes, this is risky)—you can be the one getting handed the keys.


Ask the most accomplished entrepreneurs, and they’ll all tell you, money is the least important element to being a success. Being able to approach a problem with imagination, determination, and flexibility will always succeed where an abundance of cash would never stand a chance.