SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The housing market always has its ups and downs, but throw in a pandemic and people working from home and it's madness.
According to two Sacramento realtors, the typically slow winter season was unusually busy with an influx of homebuyers searching within a rather low supply of homes. Now, with the spring season approaching, Sacramento Association of Realtors [SAR] President Kellie Swayne said they are anticipating some similar activity.
"I think we will continue to be busy, busy, busy," Swayne said. "There are no indications yet of a major shift in our housing market that we've seen."
The pandemic launched some interesting trends in the home buying market. The shift for millions to a work-from-home model has meant more long-time renters are hoping to find more private space in a home. According to SAR President-elect Erin Stumpf, people who already owned homes were also finding inadequacies in their spaces, from wanting bigger backyards with a pool to wanting a room for a home office. She says she has heard clients wonder aloud which room in the new house will be their "Zoom room."
All this means the demand for homes is up, while the supply is down.
"There's this really weird imbalance happening, and there's a lot of people that want to buy and not many people that want to sell or can sell very easily," Stumpf said.
Part of that flurry of activity manifested into a single Citrus Heights home, which recently sold after receiving 122 offers and roughly $100,000 over asking price.
"I showed that house," Stumpf said "And I will just say that my professional opinion is that the house was wildly underpriced to begin with. A house that gets 122 offers in the first place is an anomaly."
Stumpf and Swayne did not know why the house was priced as it was. After all, the three bedrooms, two bath house on a quiet cul-de-sac had a spacious backyard and a swimming pool. The asking price was $399,900. But Stumpf said that with 122 offers to sort through, the real estate agent not only must have known what she was doing, but also handled the onslaught well.
"What I think we've all come to appreciate is the space where we spend our time is so much more meaningful now, and that's showing in our housing market," Swayne said.
According to statistics from the SAR, of the 1,034 sales of homes in February that the association recorded, 87.4% (904) were on the market for 30 days or less and 94.7% (979) were on the market for 60 days or less. Median sales prices were up 15.7% in February 2021 from February 2020, which is surprising when you consider Sacramento County is still in the midst of a pandemic.
Swayne said that the need for upgraded work from home spaces and a buyer's market, coupled with a new wave of first-time home buyers and historically low interest rates created "a perfect storm" for what she says was her busiest real estate year in at least a decade.
About a third of her clientele, Swayne adds, is made up of first-time homebuyers. Stumpf says it has been similar for her, as well.
"The first time buyers, in my opinion, are much more savvy buyers maybe then I had seen previously, probably partial as a result of who they are as a generation, but also I think this incredible demand in our market has forced them to be more savvy, has forced them to really understand the market," Swayne said.
Swayne and Stumpf have some tips for people looking to get into the Sacramento housing market as either a buyer or a seller. For buyers, she says having a good team is key: a realtor and lender who are responsive and efficient can save you a lot of stress and confusion.
"There are definite strategies that you can put into place to help you be a competitive buyer," Swayne said.
For sellers, Stumpf said it is important to keep your home in good shape, as potential buyers cannot necessarily see houses in person. Photos and virtual showings will have to tell the story. Stumpf adds that for everyone looking into the housing market right now, patience is key.
"Just be patient," Stumpf said. "It's a marathon. Not a sprint."
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