A Mini-Bubble or More?

Bubbles_3D_wikimedia-commonsWhere were we?  Oh yeah.  Coming to the close of another multiple offer frenzy on a new listing of mine that was still getting prepped and ready to go on the market less than three weeks ago.

Crazy.  1999 or 2005 all over again.  Buyers and Agents and friends and family and friends of friends of family all tripping over themselves and each other to buy.   Open houses with wall-to-wall people. Milling around, Scratching their heads.  Doing all those rapid-fire internal calculations about how to make it work.

All the while looking out of the corners of their eyes at all the other people doing the same exact thing.  Eavesdropping on conversations. Mentally noting the hundred plus Realtor cards piling up on the kitchen counter.  Peering into the attic.  Ringing the doorbell.  Turning on the kitchen faucet. (House hunting equivalents of kicking the tires.)  Speed reading the home inspections on the table. A scene that would have been unfathomable just a year or three or five ago.

But here we are. A Buyer’s market that somehow morphed into a Seller’s Market overnight.  However unfair it seems to Buyers wishing they’d summoned up the courage to go for it last year. Or better yet, the year before when so few other people were “going for it.”

Now?  There’s a huge release of pent up…demand?  Somehow that just doesn’t sound like the right word.  Demand sounds so definitive. So lacking in restraint. Devoid of ambivalence.

This market feels different.  But I think we’re stuck with the term for the time being. I’m open to suggestions.  Don’t hesitate to e mail or text your thoughts.

The cautious conservative in me (some call the contrarian) still says the jury is out.  Who knows if this is going to last? Maybe it’s like what they call a false recovery in the stock market.  What happens when lots more inventory is coaxed onto the market by rising prices and even more multiple offer frenzies?   Will that automatically slow things down?  With more listings – will it seem so imperative that Buyers buy now?

Will this turn out to be a little mini-bubble along the larger continuum of a much slower, bumpier climb out of the hole of the housing crisis? What happens when interest rates inevitably rise? Will that stifle enthusiasm by making it clear there’s a huge gap between simple demand (everyone wants a home) and effective demand (not everyone can afford a home just cause they want one.)
Of course, if they can figure out a way to start giving out free mortgage money again in the form of No Income No Asset Verification Loans,  or 100% Subprime Loans with a 10% HELOC  thrown in like a cherry on top, anyone who wants wants a home will be able to buy one.  But…I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

The rational exuberant in me says go for it.   Jump into the fray.  Quit holding back.  Lock in your future with a 3.75% 30 year fix.  Gird your loins and get ready to compete because this isn’t going to stop anytime soon.  Real estate is stepping up and back into its traditional role of leading the Country’s economic recovery.  Don’t wait till next year cause you’ll be even sorrier than you are now.

But this is still a selective madness.  It’s not happening in all price ranges yet.  If you are looking between $400,000 and $800,000  – better roll up your sleeves and prepare to duke it out with lots of others.  Above that?  There’s more interest. More activity.  But it hasn’t risen to a ground swell in those upper echelons…yet.

So, the listing I put on?  $649,000 list price.  19 offers. 10 multiple counter offers. A steel cage wrestling match between buyers and other buyers. All jockeying for position.  Participating in a blind poker game where the Seller is the only one who knows the cards of all the other players sitting at the table.

The winner in this case?  A no contingency offer with a seven day close. Recorded yesterday.  More than $100k over list price.  Not the highest offer in the bunch. But never underestimate the power of short timelines. Or even better – no contingency timelines.

Important piece of information.  A higher price is a good thing. But it’s not the only thing.   Let’s talk about navigating more effectively through the multiple offer process next week.

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