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Buying a home? Act now

T-R PHOTOS BY LANA BRADSTREAM Jeff Heiden, a realtor with New Horizons, smiles with his listing of homes. He has not seen a housing market like this in his 28-year career.

Buying a home in Marshalltown is tough. Demand is no higher than it was a year ago, but the supply is exceedingly low.

This market is something New Horizons Realtor Jeff Heiden has not seen in his 28-year career. Many of the listings he gets are only on the market for one or two days – then they are sold.

“The interest rates are so low. A lot of people are realizing they can own their own house for not much more than what they pay in rent every month,” he said.

While that might be enough to make some people consider selling, Heiden said potential sellers also need to find a home. They are not about to sell without making sure they have another home waiting . . . and there are not a lot of homes ready to be purchased.

The lack of homes extends beyond Marshalltown. Heiden said it is a nationwide issue and many cities and towns have less than one-third of normal housing inventory.

“It is scary because a lot of people need to move for jobs or are ready to retire,” he said.

Premier Real Estate Agent Chris Brodin said it is remarkable if a Marshalltown home manages to stay on the market for more than one day. During the first 24 hours, multiple showings are held, offers made and a sale finalized.

“On average, it sells the first day and I have anywhere from seven to 15 showings within that one day,” he said.

Some of the offers exceed whatever the asking price might be. The highest Brodin has seen it go is $20,000 more than the asking price. The age-old advice of making an offer less than the asking price is not valid right now.

“Those are not successful,” he said.

Other buyers are trying to sweeten the deal by forgoing home inspections or warranties.

Using local lenders is a big tip Brodin said people need to use when trying to successfully navigate this market.

“Everyone wants to work with people they know, so find a local lender,” he said.

Heiden suggests buyers keep an eye on the website realtor.com.

“All of the local offices are on there, along with the new listings and pending sales,” he said. “If you have a favorite realtor, ask him or her to watch the website for you.”

Brodin and Heiden stressed the importance of having a preapproval letter before even trying to buy.

“You need to have that preapproval letter in hand or you are not even competing,” he said. “Buyers are trying to make the sale clean. Just remember cash is king.”

How long will this market last? Heiden believes it will change after more people get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I have had people tell me they want to sell, but they want to wait to show until more people get those shots which will make them more comfortable with listing,” he said. “Then those sellers will be more willing to let strangers into their homes.”

As it is becoming easier to get vaccines, this market does not leave room for decision making or time to contemplate. Brodin said it is imperative for people to take immediate action.

“When the sign is up, call your agent and get in to see it that day,” he said. “Maybe bring a family member or friend along with you who can point out some things or ask questions, because if you want to compete right now, you might not want a home inspection. You have to make a quick decision. Tomorrow is going to be too late.”

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Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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