Home buyers battle bidding wars

  • Article by: JIM BUCHTA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 16, 2013 - 9:21 PM

In the Twin Cities, up to half of housing deals involved multiple offers. Nationally, in hot markets, it was more than 60 percent.

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Two Minneapolis homes up for sale side by side in 2011.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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With buyers outpacing sellers in the Twin Cities and beyond, the competition is fierce. How tough?

Redfin, a Web-based national real estate brokerage, said 63 percent of all deals involved multiple offers — sometimes with 30 to 40 buyers slugging it out for the same house in some of the most sizzling-hot markets.

“This is what’s happening across the country,” said Rachel Musiker, a senior public relations specialist for Redfin, which is based in Seattle and tracks listings in 22 metro areas.

Whether that’s the case across the Twin Cities is difficult to determine. Reliable data aren’t available for the Twin Cities, but agents say multiple offers are occurring on 30 to 50 percent of housing deals, depending on the listing and location.

“It’s super common. It’s really happening out there,” said ReMax agent Jason Stockwell, the state’s top listing agent.

Stockwell, who listed and/or sold more than 300 properties last year, said he gets multiple bids on at least half of his properties.

He attributes the popularity of his listings to the fact that most are either heavily discounted foreclosures popular with investors or former foreclosures that have been spiffed up and are move-in ready.

“These are the highest-demand segments of the market,” Stockwell said.

Kate Beckman, a vice president for Coldwell Banker Burnet, senses a little less froth in her St. Paul office, which includes a broad cross-section of the urban and suburban markets. She estimates that multiple offers occur on 30 to 40 percent of all deals but that they happen in all price ranges and even on properties that have been around a bit.

Several buyers recently competed aggressively for an $800,000 listing, Beckman said, several days after it hit the market. The winning bidder paid more than the asking price.

“We certainly hear the agents grumbling or laughing about these situations — depending on what happened,” she said.

Sales data from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors show that sellers definitely have more leverage these days. Last month, sellers got an average of 97.5 percent of their asking price — just one percentage point below an all-time high set in May 2005. Only 16 months ago, sellers got only 88.3 percent of their asking price.

Though frustrating for buyers and titillating for some sellers, the Redfin survey shows that the dog days of summer have indeed begun to settle in and that the number of multiples has been slipping from a high of 75.7 in March.

“The market isn’t as quick as it was in March, April and May, when it was one or two days before you’d get multiple bids,” Stockwell said. “Now, it’s not unusual for property to be on the market five to seven days.”

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