Buyers: Will Someone Please Sell Me a Home?

Ted: "Please sell me a home"

In this market, many home buyers find themselves in this position

Let’s call the buyer “Ted.” Our first meeting was Friday, December 30, at noon. It was an informational lunch in Bedford, Texas — close to his job and where he’d love to live.

“I’m a programmer and work not too far from here,” explained Ted. “Currently I live in Richardson. With my long and bizarre work hours, I really want to find a home in this area.”

“Piece of cake,” I thought to myself.  After all, I’ve been helping people buy homes in the area for over a decade, this would not take long at all.

Ducks in a Row

Ted told me his budget was, “up to $200,000,” and his local lender confirmed.  He could go higher but he was a single, young professional and didn’t want to put too much into a home that he’ll live in for less than five years most likely.

The loan would be conventional with 20 percent as a down payment. His credit was good, he had money in the bank and his desires weren’t too outlandish.  He wanted a three-bedroom, two-bath home.  He didn’t care if it was completely updated.  Being an engineer he didn’t want a home with major structural or foundation issues.

His apartment lease expired in three months so he’d like to get started.

We talked about the weather (it was cold that day) and what he was going to do for New Year’s Eve and when he’d like to start looking and what his schedule was like most weekends.

Once again I thought to myself, “Three weekends tops and I’ll have Ted in a great place.”

So How’s the Market These Days?

Boy was I wrong.  Welcome to the Dallas-Fort Worth crazy real estate market. Eleven contract offers (and growing), 43 showings, and a ton of rejection later … Ted and I are still searching for his future home.

“I had no idea it would be this difficult,” he says.  “I prepared myself to not get my first or second choice … but to lose on 11 homes! It’s comical.”

Ted was on a whirlwind ride

This is what the housing market feels like to many

Since January we have looked in: Irving, Keller, North Richland Hills, Watagua, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Saginaw, and Fort Worth.

We have looked on Saturdays, Sundays, and even odd times during the week with hopes of not having to 1) stand in line with other agents and clients outside the homes and 2) not be one of many in the multiple offer situation.

The Art of the Deal

Initially Ted wanted to see if he could, “get a deal.”  I chuckled and told him that a “deal” would be offering only a few thousand above asking price.  It took him two rejected offers to understand that I am a real estate sales professional that knows what I’m talking about. (Rookie mistake).

Offers three through 11 were all over asking price.  Still no luck.

Ted and I would talk about value and what a house is worth and what would happen if he offered over asking but it didn’t appraise.

Those are all tricky and sticky situations that agents, buyers, and sellers all have to deal with in this whirlwind of a market.  What is a home worth?  Who knows what will increase in value.  Appraisals … whew, that’s a tough one.

A real estate lawyer will tell you that promising to pay difference from appraised price to price offered is not legal and binding. Currently there is NO promulgated Texas Real Estate Commission form that can legally be attached and binding for a buyer to be forced to bring money to the table.  Most agents don’t know that fact.

That still doesn’t stop some agents from trying to get buyers to sign homemade forms pledging to make up any difference from appraisal to offered price … not sure who the uneducated one is, the agent who demands that or agent that allows their client to agree to that.

Cash is King

Looking through MLS data on the homes we made offers, four homes were purchased with cash, two on conventional loan, two on FHA loan and shockingly one with VA loan.  One home hasn’t closed yet and one home was taken off the market.

Probably can’t buy a home with Bitcoin but cash is King!

It doesn’t matter what kind of offer or letter or amount a buyer makes … if cash is on the table then game over.  Quick close, no appraisal and no lender hoops to jump through, can’t beat it.

Now What?

Ted is still in his Richardson apartment.  He is paying extra on a month-to-month lease.  He has slowed his searches as he’s pretty much lost interest and got tired of the rejection.

We toured one home during his lunch break a few weeks ago.  The home was in okay shape.  Foundation looked good and there weren’t any major defects that we could see.  The asking price was $150,000 and we both anticipated over-asking offers.

Ted decided to pass on making an offer.  I think he’s getting a little gun shy about making offers and not getting the home.  We talked about an offer $5,000 or $10,000 over with him paying the Homeowner’s Title Policy and a higher option fee for very brief option period.  He understands how the game is played now and doesn’t even think about getting “a deal.”

That house that was listed for $150,000 which he passed on … sold for $150,000.  I don’t know if there were multiple offers (agent said there were) or if other buyers just got tired of the game as well.  Dang, he could’ve had that home.

To be continued…

Well that’s all from Tarrant County this week, Dirty Readers. Remember, if you have comments, questions, or ideas for future stories – I’m always here to listen!  Bring it.

Seth Fowler is a licensed real estate sales professional with Williams Trew Real Estate in Fort Worth.  Statements and opinions are his own.  Seth has been involved in the home sales and real estate business in DFW since 2004.  He and his family have lived in the Fort Worth area for over 14 years.  Also, Seth loves bow ties.  You can reach Seth at 817.980.6636 or seth.fowler@williamstrew.com.

14 Comment

  • Seth, thanks for writing this piece… and I’m afraid there are a lot of “Teds” out there who are shut out of the process. I have a wonderful veteran buyer who can go up to $250,000, isn’t picky about the house (though it needs to be decent enough for VA financing), and we’ve written about seven offers… to no avail. And just think: on those houses we hear about where there were 21 offers, with one “lucky” buyer getting the house, that means 20 people are still in the market, looking. While we’re seeing a bit more normalcy north of $500K, I’m afraid the market under, say, $300K will continue this way for some time to come.

    • mm

      Thanks for reading, following and responding. The veteran buyer is another topic and blog…it’s a shame that veterans can’t get a fair shake when looking for homes. Vets are pushed to the bottom of the pile (if they even make the pile) when it’s a multiple offer situation and there are cash, conventional or even FHA offers out there…sad. Problem is that what agents and Sellers fear – that appraisal will come back low and issues with VA loan will cost time and money – are often times correct. That’s what really sucks.
      I had a veteran buy a home on VA loan in 2015 and then was transferred out-of-state 10 months later so I listed his home. The area he was in had increased in value quite a bit and we listed his home for $15,000 more than what he paid 10 months prior. We had at least 7 offers the first day…there was a VA loan in the mix and he wanted to help a fellow vet out, so he took that offer and bypassed others. Appraisal came back terrible. Then they came back with Seller required repairs and so my vet lost money on the transaction simply because he tried to do the “right” thing and work with another veteran.
      The biggest issues I had with VA appraisers were the repairs…the same house appraised and inspected by other VA appraisals 10 months before…the same issues were there and nothing was ever mentioned…now 10 months later the appraiser is making my Seller do all these absurd repairs that were there previously…and that really ticked us both off.
      The beat goes on…keep plugging away. I will post my final article in this string of blogs relating to affordable housing and who’s to blame and what to do soon…hopefully it’ll really stir up some emotions and conversations.
      Thanks again for reading! Share if you like!

      • Did not know VA had their own appraisers or that the loans required absurd repairs. These VA loans are advertised as so great for veterans but if no one wants to take them how useful are they?

        • mm

          The loans are pretty much 100% LTV so the government wants to make sure they are not buying something that isn’t worth it. They typically (or from my experience) are vets as well and they can be very staunch and inflexible. It’s a great loan if you can get a buyer to accept it.

  • What a dreadful situation. Would looking during winter months (Dec, Jan, Feb) reduce the competition? What about bidding on foreclosed FHA homes (HUD) during the time when investors are not allowed to bid?

    • That’s actually a great suggestion, trying for ANY bank-owned (REO) properties, not just HUD homes, as most of them now have some sort of First Look or “owner occupant only” period during the first 3-20 days on the market. It varies by institution. You just might not get a house that’s as move-in ready as an owner-occupied listings. But worth a try!

  • Hi I’m a retired veteran prequalified for a VA loan with a similar budget and story to match, so your article resonates LOUDLY with me. I was born and raised in Dallas, TX (Baylor Hospital) and moved back home after the service and university, eventually deciding to buy for the first time while I rebuild my life and start a new career. The full extent of this housing frenzy is now apparent. Yes it’s been a whirlwind experience over these summer months. A few takeaways so far: realtors are often unethical, for instance specifically avoiding other realtors to keep the full commission. But you realtors should remember that the market will not forever be like this and your names will be remembered. Names like Louis Salazar and David Duran are names I’ll avoid in the future even if at a personal cost. Case and point treat buyers with courtesy especially if they offer list price or above. If that seems like a burden then find a new job. Many of these jonny come lately realtors would make fine used car salesmen. A second takeaway is that some of these appraisers will buddy up and let you tell them ‘where’ to appraise. Sometimes even outright asking if you want to sell in a few years or if you’ll be living here for a while etc. It’s all been a part of the learning curve for me. And if you’re thinking “that’s illegal” then spare me the lip service. My point is up-selling a house on “appraised value” in this market is on the verge of laughable folks. Meanwhile I’m still in the game and remain optimistic as I’ve had three homes (in three months) that were at or under budget that got away basically because I was new to the game and somewhat naive. Okay very naive. All the best to each of you. Thanks Candy keep up the good writing BUT try pushing a few more listings that are under a hundred million for those of us blue collar type. Hooyah!

    • mm

      I’m so sorry to hear of your experience with the home buying process in D/FW lately. We should not only treat our veterans better but all our clients with the utmost level of respect and effort. Many think being a Real Estate Sales Professional is an easy business – and at times it can be but at other times (times that most don’t see) it is very difficult. Unfortunately with the strong economy and demand for homes many have ventured into the real estate world with less than good intentions–or without the proper training and mindset to be a quality sales professional.
      If I may make one comment – I have family and friends in the car business and the used car business and they are proud of their line of work and their companies. I know that phrase “used care salesman” is used in the American vernacular as a put down but I would encourage you to use another term. I get what you’re saying…it is that people are proud of their jobs and they work hard to put food on the table and clothes on backs of their children while working in the new-and-used auto industry. Unfortunately that has become a negative term.
      Thanks again for reading CandysDirt and your comments. Thank you for your service to our country! God Bless. Seth

    • I think I speak for all of the CandysDirt.com team is saying that we’d love to feature more lower-priced homes but as this article and commenters illustrate, the market is too fast (for buyers and writers). For example, I wrote about a condo listed under $200K that hit MLS on a Friday. I wrote it up over the weekend and pushed it for Monday publication. I got a note Monday from the listing agent thanking me for the article and telling me they already had multiple offers. We could fill a tear-stained library with “ones that got away”, but finding a listing in this price bracket that hangs around long enough to write about is difficult, and often a signal that something serious is wrong.

  • I’m sure that kind of sucks, but offering on 11 houses in a few months is not that much of a burden, and Ted’s finances and savings should be getting higher and higher, which is a good thing for his future offers. Being an engineer or a computer engineer or whatever, I’m sure Ted has worked on a project that has been returned to his business sponsor a time or two.

    I was in the same boat when I bought my house years ago for the same budget range, and even then there weren’t many gems.

  • This time I’ll try to be more constructive! Most of my family lives around Farmers Branch, Carrolton, Plano and further north. When I tell them I’d like to buy a house, initially they’ll light up. Then I’ll state that I’m looking in parts of Oak Cliff, Cedar Crest, West Dallas and they will invariably shriek in response. But they haven’t visited the Bishop Arts District. They have no idea about Kiest Park and the Oak Cliff Nature Preserve. Or in the case of Cedar Crest there is Moore Park and the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. The quick proximity to Downtown in both instances is a highlight if you’re a working professional. The red and blue lines service each neighborhood. These are some of the things that I value. I find that West Dallas is under served in terms of public transportation, with no light rail line nearby. But the Trinity Groves development has people exited so that’s considerable for some. BUT what I’m getting at is last year Candysdirt wrote about Fair Park, calling it the “best real estate deal in town.” Some will laugh. That was the first I had heard about the Humana Plan and Mayor’s attempt to push that through. What’s new with Fair Park? Is this where first time homebuyers under 200K should look or at least consider? And should we buy a gun first? Any other reactions to any of the above are welcome. Thanks.

    • The Fair Park area is a good place to look for reasonably-priced homes. Parts of it are a little rough, but that’s the same as any area in transition. Looking at crime statistics, the Fair Park area is safer than many other parts of the city. I have a friend who lives in a home just east of Fair Park and is thrilled. He travels a lot for work and has never had a crime issue with a house vacant Monday-Friday for months on end. If you’re one of the few Texans (like me) without a gun already, one is not needed.
      .
      To your point about public transit, Fair Park does have light rail for zipping into and around the city.
      .
      Fair Park plans. Currently there is an RFP issued that three vendors have been approved to respond to (don’t ask). One is the mayor’s pal Humann. Once those responses are returned, the fun begins.