Pa. real estate wakes up after COVID-19 hibnernation — and buyers have to move fast

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American suburban neighborhood Photo credit iStock/Getty Images Plus
By KYW Newsradio

NEWTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Southeastern Pennsylvania real estate agents are enjoying a hot market right now. It’s a sellers' market, and buyers are scrambling to get their dream home.

Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that did not categorize real estate as an essential service when the coronavirus pandemic started. So real estate work was shut down in March.

Six months later, business is booming.

“The market right now is extremely hot for our sellers. We are getting prices that are over 'asking’ on almost all of our listings," realtor Pat Strehle of Keller Williams Newtown said.

“When the third-quarter numbers are completely done on Sept. 30, that will be my highest-selling quarter in 35 years," she said.

And the competition for properties is stiff. Matt Silva, one of Strehle’s buyers, has been looking at homes since last November. He says he lost a home to another very aggressive buyer.

“The sellers were on vacation, and they weren’t letting anyone in until Saturday. So, come Thursday, we saw that the listing had updated to 'contingent.' And so, I called Pat and said, 'Pat, what happened?' And it turns out that somebody bought the house, without seeing it, and offered $25,000 over asking."

That’s when he knew he had to act as quickly as possible when the right house showed up.

"The 'asking' on it was $399.900," Silva said. "We immediately put in an offer of $410, and it got accepted.

Asked how much time elapsed from the minute he saw it to the minute they took his offer, he said: "Probably about 36 hours.”

Sam Massey, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Fox and Roach Realtors in Bluebell, says she hasn’t seen this kind of competition in years. And she says with the interest rate below 3%, that is only adding to the frenzy.

"If they are priced right, if they show well, they are getting multiple offers. They are getting bidding wars. People are doing whatever they can to win the war," she said.
 
Massey believes this sellers' market could continue through the end of the year.

“Our spring market is here, now, so I don’t know what it’s going to be like at Christmas or the holidays, but it’s interesting to see. Everything has sort of shifted," Massey said.