Some good answers posted below by my colleagues! I am working with clients in that area; Several foreclosures and they are moving fast + short sales tat are taking awhile + very few regular sales. Agents need to look regularly at the various distressed sale sites. Yes, time is running out on the tax credits so that has increased the urgency on the part of buyers. Also, interest rates are now beginning to tick up - that also creates demand. If you do not have a buyers agent, contact me.
No, it's generally not investors. Investors don't compete against "retail" buyers such as yourself, because retail buyers are willing to pay much more than investors. That happened a lot in Manassas and Woodbridge about a year ago. Investors were picking up a lot of properties. Then, around about March 2009, retail buyers decided to re-enter the market. That meant that Manassas townhouses that investors had been buying for $80,000-$100,000 suddenly jumped in price to maybe $130,000. They were still great deals for retail buyers, but no longer for investors.
You're mostly competing against other people like yourself who are looking for affordable housing.
Joseph describes one technique that can work. You might also find investors selling properties--not ones they've just bought, but properties they bought a year or two ago as "buy and hold" properties or to offer as lease-options. Some will use Realtors to sell their properties. But others won't; they do it privately and you'll never see the properties on the MLS. (Or, around here, it's MRIS.) There are also some Realtors (I'm one, and I know another extremely good one in Centreville) who work largely with investors. In many of these scenarios, you're eliminating much of the competition because the property isn't on the market in the MLS.
Ask your Realtor for additional guidance. But I suspect that, to be successful, you'll need more than: "Well, all we can do is keep making offers and hopefully we'll get lucky." Not saying your agent will respond like that, but if he/she does you may want to pursue a more successful strategy.
Hope that helps.
I suspect your offers are somewhat low in comparison to others..which is part of the reason you will not get the home. The other is HOW your offer is written. There is a lot more to it than "filling in the blanks" as you see so often. You must get creative. There is indeed demand..but that is what pushes price up. You can sit on the sidelines and watch or get in the game. One of my clients put it best recently when talking about the bids. Buyers market..in this sense does not necessarily mean getting a home at 10% 5% or even 1% under list..it simply translates to getting a property at prices not seen since 2004..with great rates to boot.
So go out there and get creative with your offer and sweeten the deal a little. Your frustrations will subside and you'll get a new home!
Erik J. Weisskopf, ABR,CDPE,CRS,GRI
Hopefully you're getting good guidance about how to write your offers by having selected a great buyers agent. I talk a little about the nuances of how to write a competitive offer in this blog (from 2008 where I mention multipl offer situations - that was 2 years ago!!)... and the blogs it links to.
If you're not working with an agent and I can help you, please feel free to contact me: VChrisner@KW.com
Have you been putting in low offers?