Market Gridlock: Buying and Selling in a Housing Traffic Jam

The Road to Your Happy Place

Moving is rarely an easy task. This year, some are finding it nearly impossible. During a challenging year, people across the nation continue to have the same life changes that motivate a move: families grow and shrink, jobs change, and people age in and out of their shells. Space to work and educate from home reached a new level of demand. There has been a unique migration away from once-popular places, that now feel crowded or “unsafe,” towards open space and extended family. On top of that, the desire for a home with lifestyle has been a focus for Millennials, Baby Boomers, and everyone between. Buyers today are in search of a home that offers more than just the right number of bedrooms or an easy commute.

You may have noticed that there really isn’t much to buy across New England, and homes are selling in record time. While auto traffic seems settled down around town, with decreased commuting and more school and work from home, the gridlock of selling and buying has gotten more intense than ever. This is triggered by two competing forces:

  • Most who want to sell their house must wait until they secure a next home.
  • Most who want to buy a new house must wait to sell their house or have a clear path to do so.

These competing forces have always been a challenge in the world of residential real estate. The pandemic has only exacerbated these forces against one another. In some cases, buyers are reaching into savings and stock holdings to invest, often not needing financially to sell before they buy; however, the number of sellers we see “on hold” halts the process altogether. It is completely understandable during a pandemic that sellers don’t want to lose the safety of home until a new nest is ready.

In working with numerous buyers and sellers this year, we have found creative ways to bridge the gap and make a good match. Our job as real estate advisors is always interesting as it requires flexing with the client’s needs and holding as steady of a course as possible through the inevitable uncertainty of the future. The more we can nail down, the better. Patience, perseverance, and a level of mutual trust from all sides is required to get any sound deal to close.

In the past year, our successful strategies have included:

Bridging the Gap

  • Uncovering off-market rentals and homes to buy through local relationships.
  • Helping buyers buy early to better control their time to sell.
  • Creative financing with trusted mortgage advisors to bridge two properties.
  • Helping buyers be positioned to sell in the best market well before they find their next purchase.
Private Concord Hilltop Retreat

Private Listings

  • Offering the property behind the scenes of the public market to test the market.
  • Strong local broker community relationships, local knowledge, and ready buyer relationships to match a buyer for an off-market property.
  • Offering decreased competition to a buyer can increase the value of the property and seller satisfaction.
  • Being positioned and ready to go on the public market when the timing is right.

Preparing a Buyer and Harnessing Time

  • Working with buyers well before they want to make an offer is essential to positioning them in a tight market.
  • Having inside knowledge of upcoming properties. Days on market are low and some properties are locked in before they hit the market.
  • Reducing stress of the unknown by setting expectations.
  • Preparation helps buyers have the upper hand on timing while unprepared buyers are slow to the start.
  • Buyers who understand the market and are realistic about options and pricing can be successful.
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The market has been more revved up than predicted throughout the pandemic. Uncertainty in the economy, politics, and health has created opportunity for investors and property owners who fine-tune the engines of home and a healthy lifestyle. The caliber of buyers coming to the greater Boston area has increased. In 2020, Massachusetts’s median sale price increased 11.4% from 2019 and high-end sales volume climbed 51%. New England vacation regions such as Coastal Maine, New Hampshire Lakes, and Seacoast, Nantucket, the Berkshires, and Vermont Mountains each climbed well north of 100%. It is an incredibly profitable time to sell a home and a challenging time to buy. The redefinition of home is a trend that is here to stay.