The last couple of weeks have been downright crazy. In the last week I wrote up four offers, and on Wednesday came to deals on three of them. The fourth is now in a multi bid, so we’ll just have to wait and see on that one. Now, three deals in a month is a good month, but three deals in a week for me is practically unheard of. I’m also dumbstruck by how many houses I’m calling to show that are in deals. For a few weeks there was this group of six backroads charmers under $200K in west county that made a great showing trip; five of the six now have deals. A sweet farmhouse south of Livingston Manor came on the market at $239K and had a deal the first weekend. In early July, Wanaksink Lake was my favorite haunt for moderate range lakefront buyers, with five interesting houses to show. Four of the five? Gone, and three of those had been on the market for more than a year. The houses in deals aren’t all under $300,000 — I’ve called on some priced in the $400’s and $500’s and gotten the “in a deal” response as well.
The houses that are moving share a common factor — they were all pretty well priced and have some charm or setting thing going for them. But even then, to have so much moving so quickly this time of year is a bit of a surprise. August is not generally the ‘gung ho’ deal season here, contrary to common belief. July into early August is busy, but usually with more shopping than buying. (There’s usually a lull from mid August until after kids are back in school.) Summer shoppers are often tire kicking and getting a lay of the land, and then move into buy mode after Labor Day. September and October, not July and August, are the typical peak deal months. This year that’s just turned upside down. One thing pushing it up has been some great inventory this summer, particularly at moderate price points. Then buying frenzy feeds on itself. When a buyer has a list of five or six houses they want to see, and two or three are already in deals, it creates a sense of urgency. There have been a handful of houses I’ve shown their first week or two on market where I’ve actually said to buyers “If you want this, you have to decide now.” Over the past month I’ve been more right than wrong on that.
There are some other indicators that the market is busier. Some home inspectors are booked a week to ten days out. Appraisers are scheduling 3 to 5 days out, rather than 1 to 3 (with the occasional “I can’t get there for a week.”) Underwriting decisions for mortgages are taking longer than they did a couple of months ago. It all adds up to a day or two here, a day or two there, but the overall picture is that there’s a lot of volume moving through the system.
It’s going to be interesting to see how September and October plays out. Will buying activity stay strong through the early fall and add to the summer numbers, or has the early fall activity just moved up to late summer? If buyer activity remains robust into the fall, are we going to have good inventory to meet it? After a couple of giddy months of good inventory, I’m already feeling a tightening. (Note to sellers: if you think you missed the summer season, and are going to wait until next year to put your house on market, don’t.)