DALLAS — Usually, Texans are on the move and house hunting as the weather warms up. The traditional real estate frenzy tends to run from roughly spring break through July.
This year, it started before the end of last year, some realtors say.
It's been a hot winter on the market. Houses are selling fast, leaving relatively few homes for buyers to choose from.
Three to six months of inventory is generally considered a healthy market. A recent check of data from the Texas A&M Real Estate Center shows some of the larger markets in Texas have scant real estate inventory:
- Austin: .4 Months
- Fort Worth: 1 Month
- El Paso: 1.4 Months
- Houston: 2 Months
- D-FW: 1.1 Months
- San Antonio: 1.6 Months
In some hot micro-markets, particularly north of Dallas, in Collin County, Joe Atkins of Joe Atkins Realty, said he is seeing areas with just a few weeks of housing inventory. Because of that, he says, competition is fierce.
Atkins recently showed a $750,000 home that he says had only been on the market about four hours.
"There were at least five agents showing it when I got there. And by the time I left, another five or six showed up," he said.
Atkins also said if you're looking at homes priced in the “affordable” $300,000 and under range, it’s "complete chaos…to the point of 50-plus offers on a home sometimes."
A seller's market
It's it a seller's market with a capital SELLER'S, which means prices are soaring. Atkins said he has seen buyers offer 5%, 7%, even close to 10% over the asking price,
“There's homes I have honestly seen for sale in November, December [of 2020] and I think they could get 50 or 60,000 more if they were selling now," said Atkins.
Some may be waiting and wondering: Is this is a bubble?
"No, I don't think we are in a bubble. I think we have a shelter shortage,” said Real Estate Broker Anne Lakusta, who sponsors about 3,000 Texas real estate agents.
She expects people to keep moving to Texas for jobs.
Offering to buy a home without first seeing it in person becoming the norm
If you're looking for a home, Lakusta and Atkins say you need to be ready to make some quick decisions.
In fact, Lakusta said since so many showings have gone virtual during the pandemic, many people are now deciding on a house after just the virtual tour.
"It's almost true that you don't go look at a home until you are already under a contract to buy a home," she explained.
Texans getting creative when bidding wars go beyond their budgets
Of course, some buyers are finding price increases too steep. Lakusta said If you don't have more money to offer, maybe throw in some creativity,
“There are some conversations you can have that aren’t just pay the moon for a home. We had a buyer who owned a pizza restaurant and they offered the seller a pizza---a pizza a week for 52 weeks," she said. "We are seeing buyers say, ‘Hey take what you want out of the house and I will call Salvation Army and clean out all your crap that you don't want’. And sellers are being moved by those types of things---that is appealing to sellers."
Atkins said he is advising buyers to be patient as they navigate the market right now. He said that's especially important considering that level of competition as the real house hunting season gets underway.