In case you're wondering how real estate is going so far in 2021, let me share a few anecdotes:
Last weekend I showed some clients a large, newer-construction home in Arlington that was listed at $1.275 -- there were back-to-back 15-minute showings all weekend, so much so that apparently some agents weren't even able to book appointments. My clients didn't end up submitting offers because they knew it would be super competitive and likely go higher than they were prepared to bid. And they were right. I heard through the grapevine that there were something like 25 offers and the house is going for significantly over the $1.4 that my clients and I had been discussing. The top three offers in the mix were unsurprisingly contingency-free.
Also last weekend, a small Medford home listed for under $600k was flooded with showings and open house guests (one client reported waiting 45 minutes to get in), and at their deadline, received a mind-boggling 48 offers, 18 of which were cash with no contingencies. Even I was surprised to hear this, given you'd expect the buyer pool to be mostly first-time buyers, who generally do not have cash and typically want to have a home inspection.
Lest you think these trends are only happening with single families, two weeks ago, some buyers of mine offered on a new-build, 3-bed/2.5 bath condo in Somerville listed at $1.078. There were 5 or 6 offers in all (my memory fails...) and we were apparently neck-and-neck with the winner at $1.2, but the winning offer waived all contingencies. Notice a trend?
I approached my own listing last week, a ~600 SF one-bed in a 2-unit association in Somerville for $475k, without high expectations, as we lost a lot of the buyer pool for one-beds in 2020 -- investors, grad students, and parents buying condos for their kids all dropped out of the market, and first-time buyers, while looking, seemed skittish and reluctant to pull the trigger. Happily for me and my sellers, the buyers seem to have returned: we had about 35 parties view the condo between the open houses and private showings, received 5 offers, and are now under agreement for a good chunk over asking.
So, that's where we are. But if you're trying to buy, don't get discouraged -- in recent years, I've found the beginning of the year to be particularly competitive, with pent-up buyer demand left from the previous year, and very little inventory yet on the market. If history is an indicator, things will get a *little* less brutal as we get into March and April. Of course, these early listings will be raising the bar on prices, so from that perspective, don't expect a later-season "deal" -- just maybe not so many offers to compete with :)