Traditionally, prospective homebuyers have a wish list of features and amenities in mind as they conduct their search for a new residence. Perhaps quartz countertops or a three-car garage or maybe even a backyard pool.
Those looking to build a new home might have incorporated upgrades or extras by the builder to get their dream house. But the white-hot real estate market has changed all that.
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With super-low inventory of resale homes and homebuilders across the country struggling to keep up with demand, homebuyers are being forced to abandon their wish lists just to get in a home.
“People have definitely started compromising their wish lists” just to live in Maricopa, said Jillian Welker, sales associate for Gehan Homes in The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado. “A 10-item wish list is now two.”
“I wish I could give you more about the trends,” she added, “but people are saying, ‘Do you have a house, great, I’ll take it.’”
“I’ve never seen it this way,” agreed Zach Garcia, a Meritage Homes sales counselor at The Lakes. “I can release 10 different homes with all different upgrades — good or bad — and they all sell within an hour.”
Two factors are at work. The competition for the few existing homes on the market means buyers have to adjust their expectations just to remain competitive with their offers. A longer wish list means fewer homes under consideration and hurts chances for having a successful offer in a hyper-competitive market.
The inventory is so tight in Maricopa many prospective homebuyers are looking to new builds, but builders can’t keep up with the demand. The demand is exacerbating ongoing construction delays due to COVID, including a shortage of HVAC and other equipment and the tradespeople who install it. At one local community, where 2-3 houses are being completed monthly, the sales associate has a list of 50 prospective buyers. Another community is holding raffles every month. People show up on a Saturday morning, and hope their name is one of the few selected to buy a home.
To speed house construction, many builders are exclusively building spec homes, or move-in-ready homes. That means potential buyers who want the latest home trends — white kitchen cabinets, quartz or granite countertops, vinyl plank flooring and oversized showers remain popular — may not be able to get them or have to make changes after they move in.
Some builders may offer some of those standard options, but there is generally little customization being offered right now. The trade-off is that homebuyers know exactly what they are getting, how much they are paying and when they can move in. And that move-in date should arrive sooner.
At Santa Rosa Crossing, 10-13 spec homes are being completed a month, according to Morten Damm, a sales consultant for Centex Homes, one builder selling homes via drawing.
“Our goal is to be about two months out prior to close and then we sell them at that point,” Damm said. “It gives the buyer a more predictable timeframe.”
Several sales associates at different communities reiterated the same reality: price is king right now in Maricopa, and that makes it very likely homes here — both new and resale — will be in demand for a long while.
Dayv Morgan is a Maricopa Realtor and owner of HomeSmart Success.
This column appears in the May issue of InMaricopa magazine.