By Kayla Anderson
The housing market in Reno/Sparks is off the hook right now with real estate inventory flying off the shelves amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Typically inventory is stable during the summer because sellers will put their houses on the market in the months of April, May, and June, but now there are many would-be sellers who are staying put, not interested in moving out of the Reno/Sparks area or managing tenant-occupied units that are still adhering to shelter-in-place orders.
There is also an influx of buyers coming in from California who are realizing that they can now telecommute, which makes Nevada’s lack of property taxes an attractive market for potential real estate buyers.
“It’s an exploding market right now, we’re getting multiple offers on houses,” says Reno/Sparks Association of REALTORS (RSAR) President Erika Lamb about the current real estate situation, noting that some buyers are so anxious to get out of their current location that they’re putting in offers sight unseen.
While Lamb says that houses are moving very quickly from out-of-the-area people looking to buy, she does recommend some tactics for locals looking to move within the area:
• Get pre-approved preferably with a local lender because many times they have in-house underwriters who can close deals faster than big banks can.
• Be flexible on the house in its current state without asking for modifications from the seller. “Purchasing a house as-is can be an attractive proposition to the seller,” she says.
• “Offer the seller a leaseback after the close of the house,” Lamb adds. A leaseback agreement allows the seller to offload the home yet rent it from the new buyer until the seller can get reestablished in their new home.
• “Offer over asking price,” says Lamb. Many sellers are happy to accept more money than what they originally asked for in their listing.
• “Put in an escalation clause,” Lamb adds. An escalation clause is like a virtual bidding war where the potential buyer agrees to increase their offer for X amount if another buyer comes in and gives the seller an offer higher than their original proposition.
• Offer to pay the difference over the appraisal. If a property is appraised for more than what it was listed for, show that you’re willing to pay the difference.
“These are just a couple of things that we’re seeing in the market today (for how to get an offer accepted), and it’s also important for the realtor to reach out to the listing agent to see what the seller’s needs are,” Lamb says.
Mortgages are also at an extremely low interest rate (below three percent) so if people are in a financial position to buy then right now is the time to do it.
“If you can afford it, now is the best time to purchase a home,” says Lamb, as historically there is always more inventory available in the summer season than in the fall. She also speaks favorably for Sparks being a good place to buy.
“Sparks has beautiful homes in lovely areas that are also in high demand. Prices have been going up, and houses are closing faster than this time last year,” Lamb says, adding that units sold is 45.8 percent above this time last year.
“That has a lot to do with Sparks being more affordable. For instance, there’s a home in Wingfield Springs that has the same floor plan as one in southwest Reno. The one in Wingfield Springs is listed for $550,000 but the one in Reno is a couple hundred thousand dollars more,” she says.
“If you can work from home, then Sparks is a fabulous place to live. And everyone there is so nice,” smiles Lamb.
But the demand is there.
“I’ve never seen offers coming in and out so fast in my whole time of being a realtor,” says Lamb. According to her data, the average time for a house to be on the market is 60-90 days but now homes in Sparks are only on the market for 36 days as people are anxious to get resettled before the fall.
Lamb adds, “You need a little bit of a thick skin to purchase a home right now. We’re very hopeful that things don’t shut down again. Part of purchasing a home is looking at your financial situation, being familiar with the area, and asking yourself if you feel comfortable looking at homes at this time”.