Housing Knife Fights! 10 Surprising Cities Where Bidding Wars Are Booming
After spending a few fraught months searching for a home, Mary Thornton, 30, and her partner found a cute, two-bedroom house in Tacoma, WA, in February. The smartly laid-out 800-square feet home was about an hour's train ride away from Thornton's job as a sign language interpreter in Seattle and even had outdoor garden space. Eager to not let this one slip through their fingers, the couple bid $25,000 over the $190,000 listing price—and waited anxiously.
Unfortunately, it was yet another crushing disappointment. They lost their fourth bidding war in just two months.
"I’ve had moments of feeling defeated and feeling it impossible [to close on a home,]" Thornton says. "We've seen [so many] slip away after having made offers on them." (After winding up on the losing side of three morebidding wars, they were able to close on a $200,000 home last month.)
Bidding wars, defined as multiple buyers submitting offers over the asking price of a home, have long been notorious in the nation's high-flying big city markets, like San Francisco, Boston, and New York. But a booming economy and stable employment in most parts of the country have created a new generation of eager home buyers—and led to fevered price battles spilling over into some unexpected, smaller markets.
Realtor.com®'s data team jumped into the fray to find the cities that are seeing the biggest spikes in bidding wars—newer places where submitting winning offers on homes has become a blood sport.
"Multiple-offer scenarios are no longer reserved to the usual big, fast-moving markets,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com. “Demand for homes has spilled outward into secondary, smaller markets, and more buyers are gearing up to face fierce competition in more places around the country."
Defining a bidding war is a tricky business. So realtor.com looked at the percentage of homes that had sold above their asking prices in the 150 largest cities. That's a tell-tale sign of a knock-down, drag-out, full-fledged war. We examined list and sales data for the 12-month period of March 2015 to February 2016 and then compared the figures with those for March 2017 to February 2018. Then we ranked the cities that saw the biggest surges in the percentage of homes selling over asking price.
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