Realtors seeing busy, hectic summer

By Jay Skebba - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (TNS)

The summer months are usually prime time for real estate agents, but 2020 is turning out to be unlike any other.

When asked to describe what the past few months have been like, realtors who spoke to The Blade used words like “madness” and “volatile.” The coronavirus pandemic essentially shut down the market in March and April, and that pent-up demand coupled with the usually busy summer created an ultra-competitive market.

RE/MAX Preferred agent Mike Crouse said there is still a supply and demand issue.

“There’s a lack of inventory because people who committed to sell didn’t know what to do because of COVID and the economy,” Mr. Crouse said. “Anyone smart enough to sell could write their own ticket. Homes were going for ridiculous money. If you are thinking about selling, now’s the time.”

Despite a lack of homes for sale, demand is high. Mr. Crouse typically sells about 40 homes a year, but closed on 20 in the last two months.

He said younger, first-time homebuyers are driving the market.

“They realized COVID was affecting mostly older people and there is a way to minimize your risk and safely go back into the world,” he said. “There was a rush. Young people started the market and pushed it up. After the initial scare, that age group relaxed and went out and started shopping.”

Suzanne Herron, an agent with Danberry Real Estate, said buyers are taking advantage of record-low interest rates. With a large amount of shoppers and a low number of available houses, many are being sold within 24-48 hours.

She said it’s important to pick the right agent in such a competitive market.

“If you’re not in the day it hits the market or the next morning, there will be multiple offers,” Ms. Herron said. “It’s definitely very hectic. You have to be with an agent who is on top of their stuff otherwise you’ll get left in the dust.”

Teresa Harding is working with RE/MAX Preferred agent Megan Hornsby to find a new home in the Toledo area for her family of four. Ms. Harding is no stranger to the ups and downs of house hunting in this market.

“It’s a total roller coaster,” she said. “We have made an official offer on two. We had interest in several others but have heard they already accepted an offer even though we were going to see it within one or two days of it being listed. So it’s very stressful.”

Ms. Harding said she has talked with her realtor about possible ways to sweeten the deal, including going $1,000 over the highest offer. Even purchasing a home as-is without an inspection has been discussed.

The market may mean Ms. Harding’s family will have to sacrifice something on their wish list.

“We might need to tackle one that needs more work or look at one that might not be totally move-in ready so we don’t have to compete as much,” Ms. Harding said. “That’s how we’ve had to steer our search.”

Ms. Herron had a showing this week in the Washington Local school district with 19 appointments in one day. She has seen as many as 25 showings on one home in one day.

The seller’s market can make it frustrating for buyers missing out on multiple homes in their search.

“We experienced it last year a little when things were going quickly,” Ms. Herron said. “It was within a week, but now, it’s 24 to 48 hours. It’s a lot more hectic and crazy. Sellers are getting multiple offers over asking price and not asking for any closing costs.”

Ms. Herron is having clients utilize an escalation clause in multiple offer scenarios, which increases an offer to a certain price if other offers come in higher.

Mr. Crouse is taking a unique approach in multiple offer situations. He admits he’s not big fan of writing a letter to a seller, but said it can make or break an offer in this climate.

“Maybe they’re a couple with their first child or just moved into the area,” he said. “Putting a face and a story to their offer is the best way to bolster it. The sellers get seven offers and one says, ‘We’re a young family just getting started,’ and the sellers think about their situation years ago and relate. They’re drawn to the offer.”

Mr. Crouse said buyers should beware of overpriced homes this fall and winter. He said sellers who missed out on the hottest period could put their home on the market above market value.

Ms. Herron expects business to be steady for the rest of 2020.

“I think due to that supply and demand issue, we’re going to stay busier longer this year,” she said. “People are getting beat out writing offers on three houses, so it drags out the process.”

Total home sales were 638 in Lucas County and northern Wood County in June, a 0.3 percent increase from last year. The average sales price was $184,215, up 7.6 percent from a year ago.

Home sales increased nationwide 20.7 percent in June after three months of declining sales. However, the number of listings is down 18.2 percent from a year ago to 1.57 million.

By Jay Skebba

The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (TNS)

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