A conversation with real estate agent Lorraine Bowans
Lorraine Bowans, RE / MAX real estate agent, has had a fairly eventful year. The housing market, both local and national, has been hot. So hot, in fact, that some of its customers have written as many as seven or eight offers on different houses, each above asking price, and still haven’t had any success.
“When your bid exceeds the asking price and you’re not even in the top five, it can be disheartening,” Bowans said.
A host of factors have contributed to the current madness, but Bowans said there are a few key things at play. First, the cost of building materials has gone up, which means fewer new homes are being built. Second, as in so many industries, it has been difficult to find skilled labor to work on homes under construction (let alone workers to repair existing homes). And third, the pandemic has caused a lot of people to want to relocate for a variety of reasons.
“Some people wanted to be closer to their family, others wanted to go near a beach or a lake,” Bowans said. Still others found that their home just wasn’t as functional as they thought, especially if they made the switch to working from home for good.
Bowans said the result has been a drop in home inventories, which is the main driver of the rise in prices and the speed of home sales at a blazing pace. “It’s the perfect storm… and then there was a real storm,” she said. She has noticed that the hectic market is causing many buyers to wave inspections – something she says is never ideal, especially after the derecho. She said it’s always important to protect yourself no matter how crazy the market is. “As a real estate agent, you want to protect your buyers – and sellers,” she said.
Instead of forgoing inspections altogether, Bowans said another option is to request repairs only if they exceed a certain amount. This way, there is no risk that a denied request for a small remedy will cause the case to fail. Another way she has tried to sweeten the business is to encourage customers to increase the deposit amount. And on one occasion, Bowans personally paid part of the cost of a home warranty to get a deal done. “It was the wild Wild West this year,” she said.
Bowans has been a real estate agent since 2015, but has described herself as a real estate junkie for 30 years. “I love historic homes and used to go to open houses a lot before I became a real estate agent,” she said. She worked for many years in the engineering department of the city of Iowa City, where she learned a lot about the city and the houses in the area. She also helped repair an old house she lived in. “I wasn’t allowed to take shopping lessons because I was a girl, but I learned skills from my parents,” she said.
Today, with the schedule of activities busy for many families, she has noticed that many people have less time to learn skills that would be useful in repairing homes. Even relatively easy fixes or changes sometimes scare people off. “When I started out, a client said he didn’t like the carpet in a house and therefore wasn’t interested,” she said.
However, she has also noticed that people have become a bit more open to taking on projects on their own during the pandemic. And while people feel more comfortable letting workers into their homes, it can be difficult to find help. Bowans said it always helps to learn how to fix some things yourself. “You may not be able to buy this HGTV move-in ready home. You may need to buy one that requires a bit of work, ”she said.
Suggestions for books
1. First-Time Home Buyers: The Complete Guide to Avoiding Beginner’s Mistakes by Scott Trench and Mindy Jensen
2. How to Invest in Real Estate: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started by Brandon Turner and Joshua Dorkin
3. What Every Real Estate Agent Should Know About Home Inspections: A Guide to Avoiding Pitfalls and Common Mistakes by Cesar Costa
1. “Home sickness dwells in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. “- Maya Angélou
2. “Nothing you do with your life will make you more money than buying a house and living in it.” “-David Bach
3. “The best time to buy a house is always five years ago. – Ray Brown