Real Estate

An inside look at local housing markets across the country

Local markets spotlights 5 different areas across the country, showcasing what is uniquely happening in those housing markets. Local real estate agents, loan officers and appraisers share what characteristics are currently defining their housing markets.

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri, USA Skyline

“This is sick, and I want it to end,” said Sharon Aubuchon, a RE/MAX Premier Realty agent in Prairie Village, Kansas a suburb of Kansas City. “It is like ten kids fighting over one ice cream cone. One kid will give $4 instead of $1. One kid will give their parent’s car.” Aubuchon says buyers are making too many concessions. Buyers “are waiving inspections, an appraisal contingency, and the latest trend is to pay closing costs usually done by the seller.” Besides a high-demand, low-inventory market, Aubuchon must contend with a new competitor on the block. New York City-based Compass recently recruited 24 agents in the Kansas City area including Kristin Malfer, who is a former top performer at Reece Nichols. Of the homes that are on the market, Aubuchon said, many are adorned with front-yard signs reading “Compass.”

Lake Norman, North Carolina


Abigail Jennings’ father, James Jennings, founded Lake Norman Realty in 1978 and Jennings has served as company president since 1998. Despite her long tenure, Jennings is dealing with a couple of unprecedented problems. One, which should already be familiar to most agents, is the lack of inventory. “We’re off the books — Every price range, every location is hot,” Jennings said. “We actually now have buyer lists for people who are waiting.” Another — which is perhaps becoming familiar to agents — is a stand-off with homebuilders. For the Charlotte area, Multiple Listings Service (Lake Norman lies 40 miles north of Charlotte) new home construction is up about 14% over the last year. But homebuilders, Jennings said, are breaking tradition and not honoring the commissions they pay agents for routing a homebuyer to a new abode. “I have been disappointed in some of my builder friends,” Jennings said. “They are definitely burning their bridges.”

Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington, USA

The city of Seattle passed legislation in the last two years to encourage more housing density. These measures include allowing the construction of accessory dwelling units and a tax exemption for select multifamily developments. But attempts to increase the housing supply have not reduced housing costs. In fact, this spring, home prices were up 20% in April from one year earlier to a little over $800,000, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Schiller Home Price Index, the greatest recorded year-over-year increase in the city’s history. “We are still chasing that affordability phantom,” said Ray Akers, a broker at Ewing & Clark in Seattle. Akers argued that rules encouraging more real estate developments simply prod more outside investors to flock to Seattle. “I am inundated with solicitations every month to sell my own house,” Akers said.

Odenton, Maryland

“The client stress level is way too much,” said Mary Groven, a broker at Keller Williams. Like Aubochon in the Kansas City area, Groven sees a market at a breaking point — desperate buyer’s waiving standard protections for their investments like home inspections, county government bottlenecks preventing sufficient home construction, not enough affordable lumber to facilitate that construction. Overall, Groven sees buyer fatigue. Sure, the average seller can easily sell their home for 20% more than they bought it for, but good luck finding a new home. “Buyers are writing 15 or 20 different contracts,” Groven said. One bone Groven has to pick is with the average mortgage interest rate hovering below 3% keeping prices high.

Rye Brook, New York

Sea grass at Long Island Sound in Rye, New York

A leafy hamlet with just over 10,000 people in suburban Westchester County, demand exceeds supply in Rye Brook. Back in July 2020, there were 39 active listings in Rye Brook, and 34 pending sales, according to New York state Multiple Listings Service figures. By July of this year, there were 23 active listings, and 43 pending sales. That’s similar for all of Westchester County, where there are fewer than 1,600 listings and more than 1,900 sales in contracts. “The people who moved up here were people who had maybe thought of moving up here in a few years,” said Annalise Stack, an agent at Houlihan Lawrence. “There was an urgency for people to get out of the city.” The pandemic and attendant work-from-home rules drove people out of New York. Stack said that at least 30% of new homebuyers in Rye Brook came from the city. With the pandemic hopefully waning, some people may return to New York. But Stack hopes any exodus will be defrayed from international buyers freed up to enter the U.S. market.

Local Markets was originally featured in the September issue of HousingWire Magazine. To read the full issue, click here.

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