GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – There’s no doubt about it, Grand Rapids is a seller’s market. That’s terrific news if you’re selling a house, but not so much if you’re looking to buy.
It all comes down to supply and demand, and right now the supply of homes simply does not match the demand.
If you’re selling a home, people are virtually lining up with offers. That means realtors are having a difficult time finding homes for clients. Potential buyers are even striking out when they put bids in over the asking price.
“You fall in love with that home, and you think this is one and it’s mine,” says Kyle Naumann, a realtor for Berkshire Hathaway. “Then you find out there’s 15 other folks who put in an offer that weekend. And it’s a challenge, because they all think the same thing.”
And that’s frustrating for people who are searching for a home in the Grand Rapids area.
“I never thought it was going to be like this. It’s like war,” says Tanesha Gadlen. “We looked at eight houses this weekend. We looked at 10 last weekend. We bid on all of them over the asking price and didn’t get any of them.”
It’s a golden age for sellers, with homes selling in a flash.
“I think we were listed for two days and had a handful of offers. And one of them was a cash offer, and they wanted us out right away,” says Jesse Beragar, who recently sold a home.
“Actually, it was pretty easy,” says Vivian Pixley. “The house looked good. The realtor did an open house and I had 50 people through, and several offers the same night, and it was gone. It sold that quick.”
Bottom line is that sellers are holding all the cards, as they often watch the sale of their homes erupt into bidding wars.
“Are buyers frustrated? Yes. Do some feel it’s unfair? Yes,” says Julie Rietberg with the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors.
G.R.A.R. says the housing inventory is at an all-time low, with an average market would have five to six months of inventory.
“We currently have one and a half months of inventory on average through 2017. We actually have a little less than that right now.” Says Reitberg.
First-time buyers are feeling it the hardest, with homes in the range of $100,000 to $250,000 in highest demand. For homes that are more expensive, the competition is less fierce.
Even with new construction on the rise, there’s still a shortage of builders.
“The difficulty is there’s not sufficient skilled laborers to keep up with the pace because so many of the skilled laborers left during the downturn,” says Reitberg.
There are many strategies to successfully buy a home, including going so far as to cover the seller’s closing costs. If you can’t find a house that is move-in ready, you may have more luck finding a fixer-upper.