Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Return of the BIDDING WAR

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Return of the BIDDING WAR

Article excerpt

Marketplace again seeing multiple offers on well-priced propreties

Seven or eight. That's how many offers Paul Johnson and his wife made on different Sarasota properties before they finally bid successfully on their three-bedroom, two-bath home on Siesta Key. They got edged out so many times Johnson can't remember the exact number.

The couple started looking in January, having lived in a series of vacation rentals since moving to Sarasota from Minnesota a year earlier. They thought they were in good shape: They were prequalified for a mortgage from a major lender, they had a solid down payment, and they were willing to pay the asking price for the right property.

But again and again the Johnsons lost out -- to buyers with cash or those with higher bids. Sometimes they made offers on which they weren't even called back. Eventually they had one accepted -- $322,000, the asking price, for the Siesta Key property. "It took us 10 months, but we're finally done," said Johnson.

The Johnsons are not alone. As the market tightens and inventory shrinks, buyers are facing a changing real estate landscape -- one in which multiple offers abound and bidding wars are not uncommon.

At Dwell Real Estate, Marc Rasmussen said his agents encounter multiple-offer situations every week. "Some properties receive five to 10 offers within days" of being listed, Rasmussen said.

"Yesterday we had one in Gulf Gate; that home was on the market for one day. Before that there was one in River Strand."

"Multiple offers are the norm right now," said Dwell agent Sharon Straw. "I would say that three out of five offers I write on behalf of my customers fall into that category. There's such pent-up demand and such a backlog of buyers that when a new listing comes on and it's priced right -- I don't care if it's $200,000 or $2 million -- it's gone."

Other real estate professionals make similar observations. "It's definitely becoming a seller's market," said George Miller, an agent with the Siesta Key branch of Coldwell Banker. Several of Miller's clients have found themselves in multiple-offer situations and bidding wars -- most recently one in which the buyer lost out on a one-bedroom condo even after upping her bid.

Although bidding wars are especially common in lower-end properties, all sectors are seeing steepened competition. And multiple offers aren't limited to downtown Sarasota and the keys. In east county, at the Lakewood Ranch branch of Michael Saunders & Company, managing broker Gloria Weed said inventory remains low, even if less tight than in town. "It's happening here, too," she said. "Some properties are getting multiple offers in a matter of days."

The shift in the market has caught many buyers by surprise. "It's an adjustment for people to realize they may have to come in at or above the list price," said Miller. …

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