KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Maddie Ehlers was certain about one thing when she started looking for a house.
“I knew I’d be in the Kansas City area my whole life,” the Leawood, Kansas, native said. “I love this city. I think it’s a smaller city with a big city feel. And we have everything you need.”
The only thing it’s lacking is a big supply of homes for sale.
Ehlers spent about one year looking and had sellers reject multiple offers before she closed on a home in Overland Park, Kansas, about three weeks ago.
“I was tired of hearing, ‘You’re runner up, you’re runner up.’ It was time for me to get a home,” she said.
Ehlers isn’t the only homebuyer experiencing the effects of low inventory. First quarter data from the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors (KCRAR) shows there are more realtors than homes for sale for only the second time in the organization’s history.
Because of low supply and high demand, prices are about 16% higher than the first quarter of 2020. And homes are on the market for about half the time compared to last year.
“Unprecedented, as much as I don’t love that word, I’ve had to use it more this year than ever before,” admitted Tony Conant, the KCRAR president.
These times are forcing sellers and buyers to change their habits. Sellers rarely hold open houses as buyers schedule showings before realtors even set an open house.
Buyers are having to waive some contingencies and pay above listing price to stand out among the competition. Ehlers wrote personalized letters in her offers.
Realtor Jeff Carson said some sellers, like a mother he worked with recently, don’t read the letters.
“She said, ‘As a mother, I don’t want to choose one mother over another. I can’t do that.’ She said, ‘I don’t want to see the [letters]. I want to look at the deal, the terms and make our decision based on those things and not based on emotional things,’ ” Carson said.
Conant and Carson are as transparent as possible with clients laying out the risks of rushing and waiving certain inspection or appraisal qualifications.
“The ones that are scaring me are the ones who are flat out waive the inspections across the board,” Carson said.
The realtors believe America fell behind in building new homes after the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic has made some people want to keep their homes instead of sell.
They suggest potential buyers be patient, get documents lined up in order to make a quick offer, get pre-qualified for a mortgage and expand the areas where they look for homes because there’s no timetable on when this trend will stop.
“I honestly think inventory and affordability will be the two biggest issues that I’ll be facing for the rest of my career because there is no simple answer to it,” Conant said.
Ehlers said bring proactive and making some sacrifices has paid off for owning her own home.