Date: Fri 02-Apr-1999
Home Buyers Scramble In A Brisk Real Estate Market
BY STEVE BIGHAM
In the sales business, the trick is to attract the customers. The product is
usually readily available. It's a different story in real estate these days.
The buyers are aplenty. It's the homes that are hard to come by.
Last week, John Klopfenstein of Curtiss & Crandon listed a home in the
$290,000 price range. The following day, 10 agents had already shown the house
and three offers were made.
"I have a guy in Norwalk who is looking to buy something. He can only come up
on the weekends, though. Every time I call him about a house it ends up being
sold by the time he gets here," Mr Klopfenstein said.
Thanks to a healthy economy, low interest rates and the liberal loan policies
of banks, everyone seems to be in the hunt for a home these days. And forget
about trying to buy a home between the $230,000 and $270,000 range. There
simply are none. The fact is, people are reluctant to sell their homes for
fear they may not find one to buy. Also, developers are forced to build larger
homes because of the high cost of land, agents say. It is also more cost
effective to build larger homes, and since there is a demand for luxury homes,
the developers are happy to oblige.
"People can't believe there aren't more homes available," explained Kathy
Weller of Flagpole Realty. Mrs Weller also serves as president of the Newtown
Board of Realtors. "It's definitely a seller's market because the seller knows
his house is going to be sold in a very short period of time."
Sometimes even the same day it gets listed. This usually comes as a shock to
sellers who are not always ready to move forward that quickly.
"They say, `Oh wow.' I say, `You hired me to sell your house and I did,'" Mrs
However, being able to sell your house quickly also gives sellers a bargaining
chip which allows them to sell their home at or near the asking price. The
buyers can not be as choosy and may be put into an uncomfortable position.
They have to make up their mind in a hurry, otherwise, someone else might
scoop up the house.
"The dilemma is that a person can sell his or her home in a heartbeat, but
then they've got to find a home," Mr Klopfenstein said. "The shortage is
throughout the entire area."
In the real estate business, the prudent consumer usually sells one house
before purchasing another house.
"But the assumption has always been I will sell, then have a reasonable
selection. Now, I sell my house and I can't buy one," Mr Klopfenstein said.
"We've run into a critical situation where people sell a home and have no
place to go."
The shortage of homes often creates a frenzy that is not always in either the
buyers, the sellers, or the agent's best interest.
"If the inventory was more stable, buyers and sellers would be at ease. It can
be uncomfortable for a buyer being forced to jump into something," Mr
Mrs Weller hopes the market returns to where it was between 1989-95, when
there was an equal supply of inventory and demand.
Despite the low inventory of houses, agents say this is still a very busy
market. If they had more homes to sell, it would be an even busier market,