Homebuyers find limited options in a market that favors sellers

Chuck and Celeste Scheibert can attest to how such a market can act as a double-edged sword.

The couple sold their Washington Twp. house, where they had lived for 17 years, in one day on March 20, 2020.

That was the easy part. Finding their new home, also in Washington Township, took more than a year of diligence and patience. They finally found this new home in the fall of 2021.

“It was very difficult,” said Celeste Scheibert.

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The Dayton real estate market is a seller’s market. Home availability and the pandemic have created an opportunity for sellers. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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The Dayton real estate market is a seller's market.  Home availability and the pandemic have created an opportunity for sellers.  JIM NOELKER/STAFF

1 credit

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The Dayton real estate market is a seller’s market. Home availability and the pandemic have created an opportunity for sellers. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

1 credit

1 credit

Billie Duncan-Hart, Coldwell Banker realtor and 2022 president of Dayton Realtors, worked with the Scheiberts as the couple found themselves house hunting in a 1,200 square foot temporary apartment.

“Inventory is a huge, huge problem,” Duncan-Hart said.

In a mid-January interview, Duncan-Hart said there were fewer than 1,000 homes for sale on the Dayton market then, a surprisingly low number.

Houses are moving, she and other realtors said. But the search for the next home offers potential buyers limited options.

“We’ve had to work much harder than ever to make sure our clients’ needs are met,” said Greg Blatt, of Keller Williams Advisors, and 2022 president-elect of Dayton Realtors.

A seller’s market

Even though the Scheiberts were cash buyers, they still struggled to find the right home, Duncan-Hart said. The couple had particular desires, first looking for a newer home with a small yard and a more open floor plan.

“There was so little to come,” Duncan-Hart said.

Like most other potential buyers navigating this type of market, the Scheiberts had to adjust their criteria and manage their expectations.

“In a way it was a good thing for us,” said Celeste Scheibert. “We weren’t ready for a house with a patio.”

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Dayton Area Home Sales

Dayton Area Home Sales
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Dayton Area Home Sales

She estimates that Duncan-Hart showed her and her husband around 100 homes, passing an inventory that COVID-19 had all but shut down in the spring of 2020 and after.

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This sometimes meant dealing with salespeople who were willing to work from a position of strength. Duncan-Hart called back sellers who would not agree to foot the bill for roof repairs or other accommodations. “Because it’s a seller’s market, the seller said, ‘No, we don’t do that,'” she said.

“It happens every day on almost every transaction,” Duncan-Hart said before adding, “It’s not fun being a real estate agent right now.”

For all of 2021, 17,618 homes were sold in the Dayton area, up 1.94% from the 17,283 homes sold in 2020, according to data from Dayton Realtors.

In this environment, prices are rising. The median selling price in 2021 was $185,000, down from $170,000 in 2020, according to Dayton Realtors.

Rising mortgage rates could soon create another complication in the housing market. Central bankers predicted in December that they would raise interest rates three times this year in response to inflation.

In a bid to beat these rates, many hopeful buyers are rushing to enter the market. Last week, the total volume of mortgage applications rose 2.3% from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

Celeste recalled that she believed home listings would rebound in the spring of 2021, a year after the pandemic first really hit nationally. But this abundant new inventory never saw the light of day.

Instead, the hard work of the Scheiberts continued.

“Chords Fall Apart”

Steve Gerace and his wife Kaitlen have sold their Fairfield Twp. home in Butler County last year. They found that the price of the house had increased by $80,000 over the three years they were there.

“That part was pretty cool,” he said.

The Geraces then bought a house in Kettering. “That process was a little trickier,” he said.

Searching the Oakwood and Kettering areas, the couple looked for a “turnkey” home – remodeled and move-in ready – under $300,000.

Inventory was a problem.

“I don’t want to say we settled down,” Gerace said. “But there were some things we definitely needed to do to make it to our liking. And we’re still working through that process.

Duncan-Hart’s advice to shoppers: save more for a down payment before you shop, if you can. Get your financing in order. Be prepared to make an offer on a desired home immediately.

Be flexible with repair expectations or requests, she also advises. And don’t be afraid that your agent will offer you a “replacement offer” if your offer is rejected.

“Deals are falling apart left and right,” Duncan-Hart said.

And get pre-approved by a reputable local lender that real estate agents know and trust, she also said.

Blatt advises clients to work with lenders who know how to get them conditionally approved. This means that the lender gathers all the necessary data – credit checks, property records, income verification, underwriting and more – to position potential buyers for a quick purchase.

Finding and buying that next home shouldn’t be an emotional trauma for buyers, if the process is done right, Blatt believes.

“Don’t be afraid of the market,” he says. “Every market has its opportunities and every market has its challenges.

In the fall of last year, the Scheiberts finally found their next home in the new Trails of Saddle Creek subdivision off Clyo Road.

“It’s amazing,” Celeste said. “He’s going to do the work right now for what we need in our lives.”

“Change is good,” she said before adding, “And we have a new best friend, Billie.”

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