It’s a seller’s market for real estate

CHAMBERSBURG – If you’ve got a house to sell right now, you are essentially sitting on a goldmine.

Some houses have been selling on the first day they’re listed.

A lot of them are selling above list price.

Some – believe it or not – are selling sight unseen.

Can you imagine buying a house without ever stepping foot in the front door?

It’s happening.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen on First News to talk about the housing market.

Barkdoll said, “I’ve never seen it at this pace in my 20+ years here now. There is an awful lot of movement in the local real estate market. Prices remain high. Interest rates are very low and you still have this big migration from the Frederick/DC area into areas like where we are. All of that is a recipe for this red hot market. It can’t keep going like this forever but we still are getting the closings coming in for July and August.”

Offices all over the region are seeing the same thing.

Barkdoll said, “We’re seeing a big influx of people from out of the area come in here. I don’t know how long it lasts, but if you’re in a position to sell your house I don’t know that there’s ever been a better time to do it.”

Is there anything that looks like it could put the brakes on this?

Barkdoll noted, “If interest rates increase, that would be one thing that would put the brakes on it. And just these inflationary warnings that we’re already seeing. You talk to anyone that’s trying to build a house, forget it.”

The price of raw materials, whether it’s lumber or paint or supplies, are just through the roof. Lumber has tripled since the beginning of the year. Many supplies, you can’t even get.

There’s a scenario that some of that may almost force certain activity to dry up because people won’t be able to build new houses.

“I don’t know what brings it to an end,” Barkdoll said. “It certainly can’t keep going like this forever, but we’re six, eight, nine months now into this and it just keeps chugging along as strong as ever.”

Jansen knows someone who was just about to build a house, but they scrapped the idea because the costs are way too high, so they’re looking to rent.

She said, “If people aren’t going to build houses because it’s too expensive, that probably includes the increased pressure to buy the already existing houses. So, we’re in an interesting situation.”

The number of houses for sale is very low right now.

Barkdoll said, “That’s another driver of this dynamic. There’s not a lot of inventory so as soon as something pops up it seems like within hours, maybe a day or two, it’s sold. I see a lot of these closings and it’s always the same story, the people from that Frederick/DC area, they’ve been given permanent permission to telecommute. So they can move up here still making their DC salary. They can live like a king up here. But I think that telecommuting dynamic is also driving some of this because it’s made people much more mobile. If they want to get out of the city and all the problems that are associated with the city, this is a pretty easy place to land.”

Indeed, we’re just maybe an hour and a half from the city. If the homeowner needs to go into the office for some reason, it’s possible, so this area is very well positioned in that geographical respect.

Barkdoll warned, “Growth is not all good, either. There’s going to be some downsides with this. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop with local school districts. When do you start hearing the drumbeat we need more schools because we now have all these new students that are flooding into the local school districts? I think you’re likely going to see that discussion start I think even into this fall. I’m already hearing it just anecdotally from people in local school systems. They’re seeing a big increase in student populations.”

Ryan added, “If you’re moving from Frederick and DC, keep your politics back there. The reason you’re leaving those areas because the Democrats trashed them in the first place. Don’t bring that crap out here to south central Pennsylvania. We’re doing just fine without your politics.”

Barkdoll agreed, “I hear this all the time in these discussions, look, we welcome you here, we’re glad you’re here, but keep your politics out. The birth rate thing is an interesting point because the birth rate continues to hit an all-time low year after year after year but what I think is happening is people that do move that have children, they’re typically moving if they have children that are very little. Say pre-school age. It makes it easier. So the ones that are moving here with children probably have anywhere from a baby to say a five or a six year old. Those are kids that are going to need access to the local school system within a few years and there’s where I think the school districts are going to have to stay ahead of the curve if they think they’re running out of space and may need more buildings.”