NEW BEDFORD – New Bedford real estate agent Sharon Power has been in the industry for over 20 years. She has never seen the housing market as competitive as it is today and doesn’t think that will change.

“This market is just crazy,” Power said.

This week, Power says that according to its Multiple Listing Service (MLS), there are only 110 active single-family listings from Westport to Wareham, including Lakeville, Rochester, Freetown – and just 31 listings for multi-family.

In New Bedford, there are only 54 homes on the market.

Power, who now works for Silva Reality, said 20 years ago there would be 110 homes available, on average, in Fairhaven alone – now there are just 18 – and only five cost less of $500,000.

Since April 2020, Power says the market has exploded due to low interest rates and high prices. She thinks that with the train coming soon and Boston becoming more and more unaffordable, people are moving along the coast.

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In Fall River, Power said many people are paying extortionate prices for multi-family homes — and that will soon start happening in New Bedford as well.

She also believes the most critical issue is the high rental rates and scarcity of affordable housing in the area. “Rents are now just astronomical“, she added.

According to RentData.com, Massachusetts has the third highest rent in the country, ranging from $976 for a two-bedroom apartment in Western Worcester County to $2,336 for a two-bedroom apartment in the Boston-Cambridge area. -Quincy – an increase of 10.12% since 2019.

Now, because there’s a limit on where to go, Power said it’s harder for people to buy homes because demand is so high.

Last month, Power attended an open house in Freetown on a Sunday, and the house was sold the next day.

“As real estate agents, we don’t like markets like this because it’s hard for a buyer to get a house and then they get discouraged,” she said. “We don’t all like it.”

Not much will change in 2022

Garrett Jackson, realtor for Century 21 Signature Properties in Dartmouth, doesn’t expect much change in 2022.

“Actually, I think it could get worse,” he said. “It feels like the houses are getting bigger and bigger right now as the days go by.”

Estate agent, Diane Arsenault, walks past the sold sign posted in front of the property on Harbor Acres Lane in Mattapoisett which she has just sold.

He says he still has customers still looking since late 2021.

Brett Chouinard of South Coast Elite Real Estate believes the market may never go back to how it was anytime soon either.

“It’s a really crazy market with people selling their homes fast,” he said, adding that he had seen more than 50 offers for a property after an open house.

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“I believe people are taking advantage of those who have a lot of cash on hand or have had access to stimulus money,” Chouinard said.

“Lower income people are taking this opportunity to go out and buy a house because they thought they could get a lower rate and more money with cash on hand.

“People can get a 30-year loan and just pay a low-rate mortgage.”

Garrett Jackson of CENTURY 21 Signature Properties.

However, Chouinard said they should see three to four rate hikes this year. “The numbers can change drastically,” he added.

The market is hot everywhere

According to an article in the Taunton Gazette, the national median house price has risen by around 30% over the past decade. And in New England, much of the region had a steeper climb than that.

In Massachusetts specifically, the median price of a single-family home has risen 27.4% in the past two years alone, according to recent figures from the Warren Group, which tracks New England real estate data.

Realtor.com forecasts a slight national price deceleration for next year, estimating a 2.9% increase, compared to 19.5% posted in the Case-Shiller US National Home Price Index from September 2020 to September 2021.

Estate agent, Diane Arsenault, opens the French doors from the living room to the veranda, at the property on Harbor Acres Lane in Mattapoisett that she has just sold.

“We’re going to see interest rates go up a bit, but not to where they were 20 years ago, in the double digits,” said Diane Arsenault, real estate agent at Jack Conway & Company.

Before becoming a real estate agent seven years ago, Arsenault worked in the non-profit sector for 25 years at the New Bedford Chamber of Commerce and then another 10 for downtown New Bedford Inc.

“Then, you know, you get to the stage in your life where you just want to do something different. And I’ve always loved dealing with people,” she said.

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Arsenault said New Bedford is the newest hotspot for buyers because the town has the “ingredients people want” when they live in an urban setting.

“There are also pockets further from the center which give you a bit more of a rural feel. You’re close to everything,” she said, adding that people can get a lot more house for their money. in New Bedford too.

“The only ones that really seem to be sitting in the market are repairers,” she said. “Houses that are pretty much ‘move-in-ready’ or just need to be freshened up with a coat of paint, they go very quickly.”

Estate agent, Diane Arsenault, shows some of the documentation gathered to assist in the sale of the property on Harbor Acres Lane in Mattapoisett which she has just sold.

Arsenault, who sold her highest number of homes to date last year, said she would drop a listing on a Wednesday and have offers in hand by Saturday night.

“People come to an open house, and they’re like, ‘I’ve got my offer ready to go,’ and the next day they were asking for the best and the latest,” she said.

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Last year, Arsenault and her husband downsized their home from Marion to a condo in Mattapoisett. “We kind of have this experience that I can talk about so well,” she said.

“If you can make the investment, do it,” she said. “But be ready to roll.”

Navigate the competition

When it comes to buying a home, there are no rules and it’s mostly a matter of luck. At the start of the wave, potential buyers would go so far as to write “love letters” to emotionally convince their sellers to choose them – a practice now specifically prohibited on most listings.

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“People waive inspections or pay the asking price,” Power said.

“If the property is not priced for what a buyer is willing to pay, some people have found the money to make up that difference – sometimes they pay more than the house is worth.”

Jackson says he thinks most agents tend to price homes attractively and then hold an open house knowing they’ll have a group of buyers at the door.

“This large number of buyers at the open house makes everyone realize that they are going to have a lot of competition, which leads them to immediately put their highest and best offer,” he said. he declares.

He says agents will also put an expiration date for when offers are due, creating a sense of urgency. “People realize they only have one chance to submit a bid and they will have to have the highest bid out of everyone who attended the open house,” he said. .

Instead, Jackson suggests looking for homes that have been on the market for a little while and then potentially offer less than you’re asking.

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Power, which completed 18 deals in 2021, tells its prospective buyers never to be discouraged.

Silva Reality's Sharon Power.

“You can get a house if you persist,” she said. “It might not be what you want, but you don’t have to settle… It might take a bit of heartbreak to get outbid, but I think people will eventually get a house. “

Power will be the first to admit that she doesn’t have a “crystal ball” to predict what will happen next week. “I think prices are going to stay up there, but interest rates are also going up. In my opinion, hopefully that will calm things down a bit,” she added.

She says her best advice is for people to find a good buyer’s agent, a good lender, and let them help you through the chaos of the real estate market.

“If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”

Standard-Times editor Seth Chitwood can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.