Amanda Kirby and her husband want nothing more than to raise their 3-year-old daughter in Gainesville, where they’ve lived much of their lives.
They thought saving for the down payment would be the hardest part. But for a year now, first-time buyers have been left with homes that are out of their lending range, homes that are too expensive for the condition they’re in, and homes that sell before they’ve had a chance to sell. bid on it.
“It’s almost unfair that you work so hard for your money and pay for a house that’s missing for everything you want,” Kirby said. “Why would you work so hard to pay for that?” »
Kirby’s husband, who works as a plumber in Gainesville, has to commute into town daily from the Lake City area, where the couple currently live.
For two years now, many local buyers have been slowly squeezed out of the housing market. Gainesville, and the nation as a whole, is currently in a seller’s market. This is when the demand for homes exceeds the number of homes sold. Homes sell faster because buyers want to avoid competing with each other by getting into a bidding game. This scenario is advantageous for sellers because they can set asking prices higher than usual.
Kirby said he noticed that many homes listed were overpriced, but the number of people willing to overpay left them with little room to negotiate.
Kirby said she and her husband made serious offers on three homes. They were discouraged by the first house they bid on because they thought they couldn’t even throw their hat in the ring.
“A house we fell in love with was gone in less than 12 hours,” Kirby said. “And there were so many offers that we couldn’t come up with a relief offer.”
Their dealings with another house, on which they placed three offers, led to further frustrations. Kirby said the seller of that home was uncooperative, unwilling to do the repairs he needed to get a loan, and refused to negotiate the price. Eventually the seller told them that they only accept cash offers.
“It would have been nice to know that at the start,” Kirby said. “We kind of felt like we were kind of pushed around just to end it all for nothing.”
Most sellers don’t want to go through the extra steps involved when buyers get financing through an FHA or VA loan, said Michael Kitchens, realtor for Coldwell Banker MM Parrish Realtors.
“To find something under $200,000 for a first-time owner is really, really difficult,” Kitchens said.
An FHA loan is a mortgage that the Federal Housing Administration offers to homebuyers who may have a low credit score or can only afford a small down payment. AV loans, which caters to veterans looking to buy a home, are a little different. VA loans are issued by private lenders and are guaranteed by the VA so that the buyer gets more favorable terms.
Debra Oberlin of Exit Realty Producers, who is Kirby’s realtor, said first-time home buyers are routinely outbid because they have a cap on how much they can pay within loan parameters. and prizes, which makes them unable to earn more. offers.
Instead, many vendors accept cash offers during a hot market to speed up the buying process and sell when prices are high.
Even before the pandemic, there was a slowdown in home listings, Oberlin said. COVID-19 exacerbated the problem as people didn’t want to show their homes to potential buyers who could spread the virus. Since the COVID measures eased, Oberlin said it has noticed interest rates on loans rising.
The U.S. domestic housing market has thrived during the pandemic, with U.S. homeowners gaining $2.9 trillion in additional equity since the start of the epidemic.
Oberlin said it noticed that in the past two years there were only 40 new home listings over a four-day period in April in Gainesville. She said that compares to 150 to 200 new registrations during the same period in previous years. Homes for sale also have more buyers than typical auctions for a listing.
“So for every house based on a price, you’ll have maybe 10 buyers who want that house,” Oberlin said.
The increased competition has led many buyers to become frustrated with the process. Kitchens said it has observed buyers submit up to 20 offers and still be turned down or beaten by other buyers.
One of the reasons for the current spike in home prices is a large influx of people moving to Florida from other states, Kitchens said. According to the US Census, 211,305 people migrated to Florida from other parts of the United States between July 2020 and July 2021.
“Because of that, when there’s a lot of demand in our area, with less houses and properties not just to buy but even to rent, it’s gotten to the point where it’s even hard to find a rental house. “, said Kitchens.
With interest rates rising in the post-COVID landscape, Oberlin said she expects home prices to remain high and fewer buyers to qualify for homes on the market.
Although she feels like she’s fighting an uphill battle, Kirby said her family is lucky they don’t need to find a home right away. She said she must have gotten into the mindset that she was going to do the trick.
“You want to find that forever home, that place where you can sweat your equity,” Kirby said. “We can’t wait to have this house where we can raise [our daughter] and having all those little features and memories there.