One spring, lying in the postpartum ward of the Texas Women’s Hospital, her newborn son dozing next to her, Michelle Reyna Vimes felt that she needed more rest. But as she began to recover from her daze, the 37-year-old realtor remembered that she had another child to look after. Hours before she began labor, she received several offers for a $ 1.1 million four-bedroom home that she represented in Houston’s popular Memorial neighborhood.
She turned to her husband with an insistent command: “Give me a phone!” Moments later, she returned to work. “My recovery didn’t matter anymore,” said Reina Vimes, who ended up writing several purchase offers from her hospital bed. “You can get twenty offers in an hour, but if you don’t answer the best ones in a few hours, things can change.” With so many buyers flirting with many properties, “it feels like the Wild West.”
In any other year, Reina Vimes could have postponed negotiations with buyers until she was discharged from the hospital. But during the Texas real estate frenzy in 2021, the demands of the market are relentless. A little over a year ago, a pandemic brought to the country’s real estate market virtually stopped as home orders and economic uncertainty led to a sharp drop in home sales. In Texas, the market was so lifeless in the early summer that Reina Vimes called the service that plans home screenings to make sure her account was still up and running. Today, by contrast, large cities in Texas have added more 370,000 new residents last year alone, they were all among the most active real estate markets in the country. Austin, where the real estate market recovered earlier than most cities in the country, is expected to become the hottest market in the country for the second consecutive year. according to Zillow…
In cities across the state, agents describe a buying frenzy that defies models, unleashes record wars over money, and wipes out middle-class homebuyers who can’t compete. To keep abreast of trends in real estate, agents conducted market analysis once a week. Now the life cycle of market data is measured in days, as rapidly rising house prices can hover up to 20 percent per week. “I sold several homes to out-of-state buyers through Facetime Invisible,” explained one Houston-based agent who asked to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of his clients. “Nothing is normal now. Every day brings a new peak. ”
Texas Monthly Magazine consulted with industry experts, interviewed realtors in cities across the state about what they witnessed at the forefront of trade wars. The anecdotes that have emerged range from the startling to the absurd, with some of the state’s most successful agents admitting that – despite their vast resources and expertise – the chaos in the housing market has robbed them of their ability to predict and turned their own lives upside down.
Wade Giles, one of Austin’s top luxury realtors, said his life has been “tumultuous” since at least Thanksgiving, when job demands became so constant that the 36-year-old had to go to the bathroom in his home. at home, so as not to upset relatives with their constant use of the phone. In recent months, he has lost touch with friends. According to him, his work schedule of sixteen hours a day and seven days a week, which starts at 8 a.m. and lasts until late at night thanks to phone calls from his West Coast clientele, made him lose twenty pounds (he stops eating when stressed) … Realtors across the state share 24/7 business hours. On a recent vacation at a Disney resort in Hawaii, 38-year-old Janine Bayer from Dallasite found herself in her villa’s kitchen at 5 a.m. whispering advice to her clients. “I didn’t tell my clients that I was leaving town for the holidays because I knew I would work the same hard regardless of whether I was officially employed,” she said.
Realtors say many potential buyers are not ready for the fields that await them. As Californians’ cash-strapped losses begin to rise, 28-year-old Jessica Mejia, a San Antonio-based real estate agent, advises backing down. “I try to keep our buyers motivated, but sometimes it means, ‘Maybe you need to go back and rent for another six months because of how intense this market is,” she said. Others suggest a different approach. To keep her clients from being overwhelmed by the hyper-competitive market, Bayer advises them to see even more homes than usual. So far, her own record is ten performances in one day, but a colleague recently managed to complete a marathon of fourteen performances. “Of course, agents fail,” Bayer said, assuming a Patton wartime stance, “but that’s what it takes to succeed in a tough market like this.” To some buyers, the struggle may seem Sisyphean.
The realities of this hellish process often begin to manifest themselves already on the days of open doors. Ian Grossman, a realtor from Austin, TEC So The videos went viral as he ceremonially prepares his clients for performances as a father prepares his kids for a weekend hike across the country. He reminds them to come as early as possible, put on comfortable shoes, and bring water, snacks, and an umbrella for lines that can last several hours. Alex Wright, Austin’s agent who plays in a rock band, compares recent gigs to appearances on South by Southwest. She says potential buyers often come and look “in pain” and “horror” when faced with 150 versions of themselves, many of which have bigger budgets and nicer cars. “They see a home on the Internet and start imagining their life there, and – although everyone knows there is a lot of competition – the reality is really amazing when you see this crazy line on the street before you even step inside the house.”
Even with the best preparation, success is far from guaranteed. Homes are selling so quickly after Saturday’s open house that bids should be made by Sunday evening, Grossman said. “Sellers now have all the power and buyers have no choice but to play their game,” he said. Due to competition, many potential buyers are abandoning verification and abandoning clauses that would allow them to withdraw from a contract if the score is low. In the seller’s market, the realtor’s goal is to regain some power to homeowners, but sharp negotiation skills have become the equivalent of a rudimentary tail in real estate: “I’ve had the experience of offering 500 to 600 thousand more. the asking price was still not a priority, ”Giles said. (His team has already sold nearly $ 50 million in properties this year, nearly surpassing the total for all of 2020.)
The Austin market is so popular, Giles said, that some of its high-profile clients in Los Angeles and San Francisco have opted to stay in place, unhappy with the city of Texas because they no longer find it affordable. The state scene isn’t too different. Back in January, realtors in the Dallas area said that clients could purchase a small single-family home for $ 5,000 above the listed price. But in recent weeks, the West Plano home has sold for $ 120,000 above its $ 500,000 listing, and the Southlake property has sold $ 300,000 above its million dollar asking price. Houston and San Antonio saw their average home prices rise sharply, with both cities seeing double-digit year-on-year growth for several months in a row, as well as limited inventories. In Alamo City, although house prices are still well below their trendy neighbor eighty miles north, the market seen one of the largest reduction of reserves of any city in the country.
However, the inflated prices are no longer limited to the coveted big cities of Texas. Grossman noted that the client is in Buda, a town fifteen miles south of Austin known primarily for its passionate hugs of wine dog racing– was recently defeated at a $ 400,000 home after being offered $ 70,000 over asking price. “Even a year ago, this same house would have cost less than three hundred,” Grossman said. A three-hour drive east in Galveston, real estate agent Brian Kuhn said the historic island is starting to boom. While most buyers remain Texans looking for a second home, nonresidents from California, Colorado and New York are increasingly found lured by low prices and mild winters. A few years ago, Kuhn estimated that buyers could purchase a two-bedroom, one-bathroom bungalow for about $ 165,000. This year he said, “Anything less than three hundred thousand dollars will be considered at market value.”
During the boom, agents across all Texas markets agree that nothing is more compelling than a substantial cash offer that’s at least 25 percent higher than the asking price. For clients on more modest budgets, agents were forced to invent new strategies — some cunning, others demeaning — to keep their offerings afloat. Typical game art includes persuasive writing, but even bolder agents have resorted to videotaping family members standing in front of a desired home and begging for their offer, with each person announcing their favorite home elements until the owner’s ego is sufficiently extinguished. … To stand out among the many attractive offers, one of Giles’ clients wrote a handwritten letter on behalf of his dog. He explained that the house, and especially its lush green lawn, would mean to the animal. For the final shade, the client bought an ink pad and used it to print a real paw print on the message. He got a home. “People are desperate,” Giles said, chuckling. “And desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Perhaps no one was more desperate than a 36-year-old Austin social worker named Claire, who asked: Monthly in Texas not to disclose her name for reasons of confidentiality. When, after losing homes in the North Austin neighborhood of Allendale, she and her husband realized they were understating hundreds of thousands of dollars, their realtor advised them to get creative. They posted their story on the area’s Facebook page, asking locals for advice on homeowners who might be interested in selling. Based on information gleaned from friendly Facebook users – mostly speculation based on neighbors’ landscaping habits – and a list of potential sellers in the area that numbers in the thousands, the realtor settled on two hundred property owners. Claire sent everyone a letter telling everyone how desperately her family was trying to find a home in the area. She attached a family photo to each of them, which made her feel a little uneasy. The result of this elaborate effort was a single bite – a homeowner who happened to be attending the same college and church as Claire. A few months later, they closed the house. This process left her confident of one thing: “I don’t want to move anymore; we must live here forever. “