Home buyers find limited opportunities in a seller-favoring market
Chuck and Celeste Scheibert can attest that such a market can be like a double-edged sword.
The couple sold their Washington Twp. home, where they had lived for 17 years, on March 20, 2020.
That was the easy part. Finding her new home, also in Washington Twp., took more than a year of diligence and patience. They finally found their new home in autumn 2021.
“It was very difficult,” said Celeste Scheibert.
Billie Duncan-Hart, a broker at Coldwell Banker and the 2022 president of Dayton Realtors, worked with the Scheiberts when the couple were house-hunting in a 1,200-square-foot temporary home.
“Inventory is a huge, huge problem,” Duncan-Hart said.
In an interview in mid-January, Duncan-Hart said there were fewer than 1,000 homes for sale in the Dayton market at the time, a surprisingly low number.
Homes are moving, she and other realtors said. But the search for the next home offers only limited options for potential buyers.
“We’ve had to work much harder than ever to ensure our clients’ needs are met,” said Greg Blatt of Keller Williams Advisors and elected President of Dayton Realtors in 2022.
A seller’s market
Although the Scheiberts were cash buyers, they still had trouble finding the right home, Duncan-Hart said. The couple had special needs and initially looked for a newer home with a small garden and a more open floor plan.
“So little of that came our way,” Duncan-Hart said.
Like most prospective home buyers entering this market, the Scheiberts have had to adjust their criteria and manage expectations.
“In a way, it was a good thing for us,” Celeste Scheibert said. “We weren’t ready for a terrace house.”
She estimates that Duncan-Hart showed her and her husband around 100 homes and did an inventory that COVID-19 had all but shut down in spring 2020 and beyond.
That sometimes meant dealing with salespeople who weren’t afraid to work from a position of strength. Duncan-Hart called back sellers unwilling to foot the bill for roof repairs or other housing. “Because it’s a seller’s market, the seller said, ‘No, we don’t do that,'” she said.
“It happens every day in almost every business,” Duncan-Hart said, before adding, “It’s not fun being a real estate agent right now.”
For all of 2021, 17,618 homes were sold in the Dayton area, up 1.94% from the 17,283 homes sold in 2020, according to data from Dayton Realtors.
In this environment, prices rise. The average selling price in 2021 was $185,000, according to Dayton Realtors, up from the median of $170,000 in 2020.
Rising mortgage rates could soon pose another complication in the real estate market. Central bankers predicted in December that they would raise interest rates three times this year in response to inflation.
To beat those prices, many hopeful buyers are trying to enter the market. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index, total mortgage applications increased last week by 2.3% compared to the previous week.
Celeste recalled believing real estate listings would bounce back in spring 2021, a year after the pandemic first really felt domestically. But this rich new inventory has never surfaced.
Instead, the hard work for the Scheiberts continued.
“Deals are falling apart”
Steve Gerace and his wife Kaitlen have sold their Fairfield Twp. home in Butler County last year. They found the house had increased in price by $80,000 in the three years they lived there.
“That part of it was pretty nice,” he said.
The Geraces then bought a house in Kettering. “This process was a bit more complicated,” he said.
Searching the Oakwood and Kettering areas, the couple were looking for a “turnkey” home — renovated and ready to move into — under $300,000.
Inventory was a problem.
“I’m not saying we settled in,” Gerace said. “But there were a few things we definitely had to do to make it our way. And we’re still working through that process.”
Duncan-Hart’s advice to buyers: Save more for a pre-shopping deposit if you can. Get your finances in order. Be ready to make an offer on a dream home immediately.
Be flexible with repair expectations or requirements, she also advises. And don’t be afraid to let your agent suggest you as a “backup offer” if your offer is rejected.
“Deals are falling apart left and right,” Duncan-Hart said.
And get pre-approved by a reputable local lender that brokers know and trust, she also said.
Blatt advises clients to work with lenders who know how to obtain conditional approval. That means the lender must gather all the necessary data — credit checks, title documents, income verification, underwriting, and more — to position potential buyers for a quick purchase.
Finding and buying your next home shouldn’t be an emotional trauma for buyers if the process is done right, Blatt believes.
“Don’t be afraid of the market,” he said. “Every market has its chances and every market has its challenges.
Last fall, the Scheiberts finally found their next home in the new Trails of Saddle Creek subdivision, off Cleyo Road.
“It feels amazing,” Celeste said. “It will now do exactly what we need in our lives.”
“Change is good,” she said, before adding, “And we have a new best friend, Billie.”