Why I Refused to Engage in a Bidding War When I Was Hunting for a Home to Buy · Madam Money®

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It wasn’t something I was willing to do, even though many buyers do.

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Back in 2009, my husband and I made the decision to put our starts home on the market and looking for a new home to buy. At the time, home prices were starting to come down, and we wanted to sell our home before the market really crashed. We also wanted to lock in a mortgage at a time when borrowing rates were reasonable, which they were at the time.

Of course, selling our home meant having to find a new one to live in. And that wasn’t the easiest thing.

Although housing inventory at that time was more robust than it’s been over the past couple of years, there weren’t that many houses for sale in the neighborhoods we wanted. Plus, we were eager to stick to a certain price range, which limited us further. As such, we had to make some compromises in the course of our house hunting.

But one thing we didn’t do during our home search was engage in a bidding war with other buyers. Here’s why I refused to go that route.

1. I didn’t want to overpay

Bidding wars often result in you paying above a home’s asking price. That’s something I wasn’t interested in doing.

My husband and I were really invested in not only staying within our price range for a new home, but sticking to that lower end. Avoiding bidding wars helped us achieve that objective and avoid paying a price we weren’t comfortable or happy with.

2. I didn’t want to get stuck in limbo

Sometimes, bidding wars can drag on for days. Other times, a bidding war can last weeks.

My husband and I, meanwhile, had sold our home before finding a replacement one to make an offer on. So we couldn’t afford to get stuck in bidding war limbo. Instead, we wanted our offers responded to within 24 hours — or we geared up to walk away.

3. I didn’t want the stress

Bidding wars can be very stressful. Not only are you competing with at least one other buyer (sometimes more), but it can also be hard to know what purchase price you’ll end up with.

Meanwhile, buying a home can be a harrowing process, especially when the clock is ticking because the home you’re selling is under contract and you need a new roof over your head. So I didn’t want to make the process even more stressful by subjecting myself to bidding wars.

The right call given the housing market at hand

In housing markets where inventory is tight, sometimes, bidding wars can be unavoidable. Such was largely the case from mid-2020 through mid-2022 in particular.

But in my case, steering clear of a bidding war was possible. And that’s why I made it clear to me real estate agent that a bidding war was a path I didn’t want to go down. Thankfully, she heard me loud and clear, and at no point during my home search did I have to go back and forth in an attempt to beat out a competing buyer.

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