CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

Pending sales dropped for the second straight month, according to data. One more drop and we can officially call it a trend. But does this surprise ANYBODY? It shouldn’t. I currently have seven buyers…SEVEN…and cannot find anything for any of them, though prices range from $150,000 to $685,000. Data published during the first quarter indicated that our existing home inventory declined by 60% over last year. I think it was higher than that.

I complained loudly last year about investors buying up inventory that would otherwise be there for first time buyers, a trend that effectively pushed that group of buyers firmly out of the market. In a few cases, first time buyers were able to go up in price, but generally not; in other words, the market was squeezed from the bottom by investors. I thought that was incredibly unfair to young people trying to buy a home, because that’s an exciting feeling, taking that step to home ownership, and this group of buyers happens to be one of my favorite.

So, investors pushed people UP in price to where first time buyers were in the $220,000 price point to START, thereby wiping out most young buyers from the market. Because investors gobbled up lower price points, stress was put on the next price plateau until that group of homes was eliminated from the market. That happened very quickly, in part because existing homes sold fast, and people SELLING in that price point often couldn’t move up in price due to lack of inventory. So they stayed, and are staying, put.

All along, us real estate agents were able to funnel clients to new construction to circumvent the dearth of resale homes available. You know the result of that. Builders are now completely overwhelmed with buyers desperate to find housing. Waiting lists are being used and LOT PREMIUMS (once a rare thing) are now the order of the day, and now huge. Lot cost has become an add-on. And buildable lots are being put out for BIDS. So now in new construction, you start out overpricing yourself in the market, just to get a lot to build on. And then you have to be able to afford the house that goes on it. Example: A 2×10 board that used to cost 8 bucks is now 32 bucks. Want to guess how that effects new construction?

There has been a desperate charge by agents to find creative ways to get clients even under contract, and the result has been increasing and increasing due diligence amounts being offered to entice sellers to accept offers. This is a dangerous practice for people without tens of thousands of dollars to risk OR buyers who can just afford to do repairs no matter what. In other words, you had better not expect to walk away if you put up a huge due diligence because that money is at RISK. Period. There are other ways to find homes to buy, and I’m doing all of them. But it’s time consuming and the return on effort is low. It’s there, but low.

I hate to say that I wish interest rates would go up, but as bad as that sounds, it will probably have to happen to stop this insanity. I believe we are about to see the market flooded with short sales and foreclosures because of the Covid effect, which brings back memories of 2008. It’s a scary time out here for those of us who are the boots on the ground, so to speak.

SO…if you are planning to buy OR SELL actually, don’t expect things to happen quickly. Be careful how you handle due diligence. Get someone to help you think it through carefully and KNOW YOUR RISK, on both sides of the table, before you take that leap. My fervent wish is that sellers will stop looking at due diligence as a cash-grab, and help this crazy market un-inflame. We don’t have a ‘hot’ market right now; we have an INSANE market, and an insane market is unpredictable and dangerous. I’ve never seen ANYTHING like it, and I don’t like it AT ALL. I can’t predict the future, but I can tell you that it’s not going to be good in real estate. Not without some ‘rule changes’.

So let’s be careful out there. And, first time buyers? Are you there? I am patient and I will work with you as long as it takes. And as of now, it could be years. But you have to know that under 200 thousand, the homes are statistically nonexistent. That means, one pops up on a rare occasion, but it’s largely uninhabitable.

So while you pour over the internet looking for a house you like and can afford, KEEP SAVING YOUR MONEY. And as for due diligence, just know you’ll have to put about 2% of list price right on the table, up front, to even have a shot at getting a house, but you will get it back at closing. Just don’t walk away.

And call me.

I’m at Coldwell Banker Advantage at Wake Forest NC. Ask for me. Let’s talk.

Shrinking Inventory in the Real Estate World

The Perfect Storm is looming.  Interest rates are creeping up; housing inventory is shrinking; people are rushing to buy, people who were on the fence for some time.  It’s turning into a seller market, for these reasons and one other one that’s HUGE.  Multiple offers are commonplace.  Great for sellers.  Not good for buyers who are used to insisting on paint color being perfect before they even buy, carpet being new in a ten year old house, the right smell, the right temperature.  Sellers, celebrate.  Buyers, take a deep breath.  The world we knew a year ago has flipped.

When sellers have multiple offers on a home you really love, suddenly their repair budget shrinks or yes, even disappears altogether.  Some offers are high with ZERO concessions.  Suddenly that decor isn’t so bad after all, suddenly sellers are smack dab in the middle of the driver’s seat.  And folks, as inventory continues to go away, it’s going to become even more dramatic.

For so long sellers were put through the wringer trying to sell, and now it’s about to swing strongly in the other direction, moving so quickly through the middle ground we’re likely to miss it.  If you’re a seller, it’s a great time to have your home listed.  Buyers, better get busy, because not only might you have to compete with several others to get the home you love, you’re going to pay a lot more each month as interest rates creep up.

I said, some time ago, that one truism is that the universe WILL balance.  It happens in all areas of life, and it’s happening in real estate now. Don’t you feel it?  Exciting times.  Don’t miss out on the still good prices and interest rates, people.  We’re about to see house prices, first on new construction, take a big leap.

Call me and let’s get busy!