Tales of a Seasoned Broker
Let’s for a moment put ourselves in the shoes of a recently married couple of 4 years. One of the spouses is an “out of towner” and immediately felt comfortable with suburban Northern NJ as the neat rows of houses reminded her of home, although with much smaller parcels of land. The other spouse was born and raised in the NY area and while he had dreams of moving to some far off land (Israel, maybe California) work was in Manhattan and so for the time being Bergen County would have to suffice. Their first apartment post marriage was close to Central Park and they spoke frequently of taking their soon to be born child for walks along the tree lined paths. Then Covid hit and their plans quickly changed. Scared of being trapped in Manhattan during lockdown with a newborn, they fled to Bergen County to an available rental. The new baby brightened their lives although it made the one bedroom apartment they were in feel a tad on the tight side. With the knowledge that a second child was on the way, talk of finding a home in a nearby community became the new topic du jour. It will be of no surprise to this informed readership of how difficult their search has now become.
On these pages we have, by and large, focused on the potential sellers/homeowners in our community and why they feel a decreased urgency to sell their homes. Less talked about are the experiences of all those would-be buyers who are feeling shut out of the customary home buying trajectory. I am confronted daily with anecdotes from customers, friends, and even a restaurant owner who saw me, the other day, eating in his establishment and came running over to say “Help me! I am stuck in my starter home and have children coming back from their gap year in Israel with no bedrooms for them!”
Since the first time I took a buyer out more than 30 years ago, the process of finding a home was never “simple.” Yes, there have been the very rare lucky ones who come out on their first time, find a home, negotiate a contract, have no problems on the inspections, the mortgage comes in on time and off to a smooth closing. Now that I think harder, I don’t believe that has ever happened. Not once. There is always something. Each period has its own unique challenges and lack of inventory is going to be the main headline for this spring market. I think the key take away though is this. Low inventory doesn’t mean no inventory. Just like in dating, you don’t need to date 100 people to find the right spouse. You just have to find the one ” right” spouse. Homes do still come on the market, possibly the right home for you. It’s vitally important to stay plugged in ( a good Realtor is a good start) and be up to date with your mortgage broker so if your chance should arrive you are prepared and ready to make your best offer. Patience will be the key to successfully navigate this market. Maybe spend some money painting the rental you are in so you can tolerate being there a little longer. It will ultimately reward you when the extra time allows you to find the right home instead of rushing into a less desirable option. And if all other options fail and you think you could stomach it, maybe move back into your parent’s house and get some free babysitting in the process.