Here in Colorado, our available housing supply is at a 20 year low. After taking a couple years off building new homes, builders are now scrambling to build new homes as fast as they can in places like Frederick, and Erie. Millennials, (currently aged primarily from their early 20s to early 30s) are finally moving out of their parent’s basements and looking for their first homes. Combined with still historically low mortgage rates, this confluence of events is conspiring to create an unbelievably competitive and aggressive market for buyers, particularly in the sub $500k range.
What this means to sellers is that more often than not, they are listing their homes at the high end of their price range and receiving multiple offers, often over list price, often within 24 hours of the house being listed on on the MLS (multiple listing service). So if you are a seller, then lucky you. You chose a good time to sell.
Conversely however, for buyers, this means that more often than not, their strong offers are either getting rejected, or even worse, they are not even getting a chance to put in an offer because the house is under contract within 48-72 hours after being listed.
In a super tight market like the one we are experiencing now, those first 24 hours that a house is listed are critical. Real estate professionals pay to have instant access to the MLS and have up-to-the-minute information so working with an attentive buyer’s agent can do more than anything to help you find new listings the day, or even the hour that they become available. But if you rely on a site like Zillow to tell you when new listings come on to the market, expect a delay of hours or even a day before those “new” listings show up on the site. Those precious few hours can make all the difference.
On top of that, in order to seem like they have more inventory, sites like Zillow choose not to make a distinction between “active” listings and “under contract” listings which means that you are further wasting your time looking at or trying to set up showings of homes that are already under contract to be sold.
Why is this and how can you get the most up to date info? It is because sites like Zillow and Trulia are what are called syndication sites– they are not the source of their listing data, they receive their data from local MLSs all over the country including the ones here in Colorado. So if you want up-to-date listing info, go to the source. Start by asking your agent for automated search results sent to you immediately for whatever kinds of homes you are looking for. Beyond that, use sites that are fed directly from the local MLS. In Northern Colorado from Boulder to Fort Collins for instance, www.corealestatesearch.com, and www.coloproperty.com have the most up-to-date information freely available to the consumer. In the Denver market, a site like www.recolorado.com is the equivalent.
Its not to say that sites like Zillow and Trulia aren’t useful. They may have some FSBO (for sale by owner) homes listed that are not easy to find otherwise. And they are great for looking at large swaths of data, general market trends, neighborhood statistics etc. But if you are serious about finding a home, every hour counts so get as close to the source of the information as you can.