Spring Real Estate Season has Arrived—But Where Are the Listings?

Here in the Pioneer Valley, the snow has melted (mostly!) and the spring real estate market has launched—slightly behind schedule due to winter’s (brief, we hope!)  reappearance.  Nevertheless, this is prime time for selling, as the buyers emerge with the pent-up demand for new homes.  However– one big problem stands in their way.  Inventory! Where are the listings?  In a seller’s market, it seems that there are few homes available for the eager buyer.  At Delap Real Estate, we have a slideshow of our listings scrolling on a video display in our window, easily visible to the busy foot traffic at Big Y Plaza on North King Street in Northampton.  As the (de facto) IT person, I am the co-owner who puts the listings on the slide show.  As I went through our many listings, I was hard-pressed to find any that were not already under contract. 

What is going on?  Why are there so few homes for sale in our Greater Northampton and Pioneer Valley real estate coverage area?  Well, it’s not just us.  Nationwide….The number of homes for sale fell to the lowest level in nearly two decades in the fourth quarter, lifting prices and raising concerns that young buyers are being shut out of the market.

The median price of an existing single-family home increased in 89% of metropolitan areas in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. In the third quarter, prices rose in 87% of those markets from the same quarter a year earlier.

Sale prices in more than half of the 178 markets included in the report have now reached or surpassed their previous peaks.  So what is a buyer to do?  Locally, here in the Pioneer Valley, we can offer some helpful guidelines.

  1.  Get pre-approved.  In a competitive market, having a bank pre-approval is not just a way to make your offer more appealing, it is a necessity.  Go to your bank (or any bank,) and get pre-qualified!  it can be as easy as a phone call, and spare both you and your buyer’s agent from wasted time and crushing disappointment.  Know what you can afford, and have that in writing when you make an offer.
  2. Do not procrastinate!  If you fall in love with a home, you may not have the luxury of “sleeping on it”, or pondering it for a month.  Jump on it, or someone else will be living in your dream home.
  3. Use the right buyer’s agent. If your agent truly has your best interests in mind, he or she will call your attention to anything new that comes on the market that might suit you.  If you feel your agent is not on top of things in a fast-moving market, you need a different agent.  At Delap Real Estate, we pride ourselves on quick response times and personal attention to our buyer’s needs.  You may want to sign up for our up-to-the-minute real-time email updates.  When a home comes on the market that meets your criteria, you will know immediately.  Your buyer’s agent at Delap will show you the home as soon as possible.
  4. Bidding wars—ugh.  No one wants to be involved in the tension and uncertainty of being in competition with other prospective buyers.  However, if you shy away from giving it a try just because there are competing buyers, you may be passing up the right home for you out of timidity.  If you don’t try, you can’t win.  So why not give it your best shot?
  5. Be philosophical.  If there is one thing I have learned, through personal experience and decades in the real estate field…if it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to be.  Another home will come along (eventually) that will be better than the one you lost out on in the bidding war.  In this market, it may take awhile.  If you have a pressing need to buy right away, then…
  6. Compromise.  Unless you have unlimited funds, no one home may check off every single box on your “Must Have’ list.  Carpeting can be torn up to reveal beautiful hardwood floors.  A wall can be torn down to open up more space.  A  lower level can be finished to provide more living space.  A swimming pool can be installed, or filled in to provide more garden space.  Be open to the possibility that the not-quite-perfect can be changed—if not immediately, then in the future.

GOOD LUCK!  At Delap Real Estate, we have the expertise to help you. If you are selling—lucky you! This is a great time to sell.  If you are buying—trust us! We will help you to gain every advantage you need in this  challenging market.  We are here for you…please let us help.


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