Home » World News » In housing markets like Cape Cod and the Jersey Shore, homes for sale disappeared during Covid
In housing markets like Cape Cod and the Jersey Shore, homes for sale disappeared during Covid
Real estate market booming for secondary houses
Many people are looking to buy second homes after being cooped up during the pandemic, causing housing prices to rise. FOX Business’ Ashley Webster with more.
In the past whipsaw pandemic year, the U.S. real-estate market went from essentially shut down to an unprecedented rally. Today, increased demand has dwarfed the supply of homes coming on the market in many areas. The result is a severe inventory shortage spanning much of the country.
For this year’s Real Estate Guide, The Wall Street Journal partnered with Realtor.com to analyze inventory in luxury real-estate markets across the country. (News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, also operates Realtor.com under license from the National Association of Realtors.)
Our data looked at more than 1,000 ZIP Codes with a median listing price of $750,000 and up, and compared average monthly inventory levels from the beginning of 2017 through the end of 2019 with those from March 2020 to February 2021. The results show that the most dramatic inventory drops occurred in vacation destinations, such as Cape Cod and the Jersey Shore, and exurbs of major cities that were once too far away for commuters.
On the other end of the spectrum, some luxury markets have seen significant increases in the number of homes for sale since the pandemic. Most of these are dense urban areas with a large proportion of condos and co-ops, or single-family houses on small lots: Several neighborhoods in Los Angeles saw large upticks in inventory, as did areas of New York City, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle and Boston.
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In the many areas where inventory has shrunk, buyers are getting creative to make their offers stand out from the pack. Some buyers write a love letter to the seller, with photos and an explanation of the bidder’s plans for the house.
That strategy helped DJ and Lauren Bowser land a single-family house in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles. After getting outbid on three properties, they bid on a house listed for $1.299 million. Along with their offer of $1.485 million, they sent photos of their dog, Bear, and a letter explaining that Bear was an apartment dog who would love to have a backyard. It worked: They got the house for $1.4815 million (they got some seller’s credits) by beating out seven other offers, including one that was higher than theirs. The seller loved the photos of Bear, according to the Bowsers’ real-estate agent, the Agency’s Stephen Katz, who noted they also had a very strong offer.
But home seller Ashley Fleming discouraged buyers from writing love letters. She and her husband, Chris, listed their house in Bryn Mawr, Pa., on a Friday in early March, asking $899,000. They got nine offers, and by Sunday evening had a signed contract for over $1 million, all cash with no contingencies. She said she received two or three personal letters—one asking to see the house before it was listed on the market—and ignored them. "I have to say that the personal letter is a total dud," she said. "We had the attitude of, ‘show us the money, because that’s what’s really going to get you the house.’ "
In areas with higher inventory, however, selling a home is what takes creativity.
In Los Angeles, single-family homes priced under $2 million are selling quickly, agents said, but condos and pricier homes take longer to sell. Julie Stevens, 54, founder of a line of low-calorie cocktails called BeTini, listed her six-bedroom house in Santa Monica for $5.8 million in August 2020. The house had been sitting on the market for months, with multiple price cuts, when she hired a new agent, Rochelle Atlas Maize of Nourmand & Associates. While touring the house, Ms. Maize was inspired when she saw a projector screen in the basement with lighting to go with it. She hatched a plan to stage the house with TikTok and Instagram influencers in mind, then let them film at the house free to generate publicity. Dubbed "Hype House West," the house got multiple offers and is now in escrow for $5.175 million, just under its most recent asking price of $5.299 million. The buyer saw the house on social media, Ms. Maize said.
To help buyers and sellers navigate this strange new world, we offer a look at some of the communities with the lowest inventory compared with pre-pandemic norms, explore the reasons why these areas are so hot, and introduce you to some buyers and sellers who have successfully completed a home sale in these communities.