It’s been a crazy year for real estate. A screaming deficit between supply and demand has been compounded by rising construction costs, a surge in state-to-state migration, and record-low interest rates, which have lured an increasing number of buyers into the already competitive housing market. While many have witnessed these conditions from a safe distance, others have braved the white-hot market, taking on high risks in the hopes of high rewards.
To find out what it was like to experience such a volatile market firsthand, I spoke to four recent homebuyers.
Competing in Brutal Bidding Wars
“I am still traumatized by our house-buying process. My fiancé and I purchased our house in July of this year. We started our house-buying process in November of last year and went through depression and heartbreak from taking so many losses. We finally landed on a house that we like but don’t love, because the house we loved we were outbid for. We then found out the buyers who outbid us got the house for less than what we bid for it. To this day, we have no idea why that was. Plus, in order to get our current house, we had to bid $30,000 over asking.”—Tyhira Monet, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Making Offers Sight Unseen
“We decided to sell our home this year because it allowed us to more than double our investment in it. We closed in 28 days with an all-cash offer. The buying process, on the other hand, was very stressful. Houses were coming on the market under contract with offers that were all above asking. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so our budget didn’t have a ton of wiggle room, which severely limited our ability to find something. Our Realtor heard about a house that was coming back on the market after the financing fell through for the previous buyer. We had our pre-approval paperwork ready and made an offer — sight unseen — over the phone as soon as it hit the market. We regret acting impulsively but have also seen that the inventory status hasn’t changed much. We are just glad we were able to find something.”—Brianna Leonhard, founder of Third Row Adventures, Athens, Georgia
Going the Extra Mile for the Seller
“We are first-time homebuyers, so the whole process was new to us. We were outbid on two other homes before we got ours. To get it, we had to expand the area we were searching in, but were able to stick to our budget. As the first people to tour the house we eventually purchased, we saw it on a Monday night and our Realtor submitted our offer by Tuesday morning — before offers were even due. We did waive some contingencies, such as the lead inspection. We also wrote a letter to the sellers where we included specific details that we liked about the home. I truly think being the first offer before other showings and the letter are what landed us our house in this market.”—Macy Sarbacker, author of the Macy Michelle Blog, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Living Out the Dark Side of Waiving Contingencies
“My partner and I started house-hunting in May. Our experience buying a home a few years ago was massively different than it was this time. This time, there were offer review dates — and we’re talking a two-day turnaround from the open house to an offer review date. If you wanted to bring your own people in to check the house out, there was no window for that. We relied heavily on the suggestions of our real estate agent and were advised to waive contingencies. Most of the houses already had the pre-inspection report and sewer scopes available. After we moved in, I was getting increasingly sick. What was not addressed in the pre-inspection reports was that the house had toxic black mold. There were a lot of things that were never addressed in the pre-inspection report. We just had to replace all of our windows because they’ve been leaking and the wood around them is completely rotted. I think that if had we had someone independently come in and do an inspection, an inspector should have noticed some of these things.”—Lauren Remesi, Seattle, Washington