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'If you like a house, jump on it' | Bidding wars continue in hot real estate market

Home values soared and thousands uprooted, but realtors say the housing market madness isn't here to stay.

SAN ANTONIO — Thousands of Americans bought homes during the pandemic. Some upgraded from a rental space or apartment for the first time. 

As employers offered remote work options, some people moved states away from the office. Preliminary census data shows the Texas population in particularly benefitted. 

Low interest rates offered buyers a chance to accrue equity at a faster rate, effectively saving them money long-term. 

But the San Antonio Board of Realtors says Bexar County home prices shot up more than 20% from May 2020 to May 2021. In Texas at large, those prices soared some 30% in the same time frame. 

"The issue is supply and demand," said Cher Miculka said, chair of the board. "We're still not normal yet... in 2020, we had over 4,000 more houses than we do now actively listed." 

With fewer homes available, eager buyers are engaging in bidding wars that drive house values well over initial asking price. 

"Until that evens up a bit, I think we'll be seeing the progression of bid wars," Miculka said. 

But the madness won't be permanent, she added. 

"Real estate is a cycle. Historically, it's always gone up and down. We just tell folks, 'Ride the wave.'"

Global events dramatically alter home values every decade or so, Miculka said. Other industries are experiencing pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, dramatically altering prices for the first time. 

"If I had a crystal ball, I could tell you more," she said. "But real estate usually works itself out."

Until then, Miculka says buyers should know the maximum amount they're willing to pay for a new home. They should also be flexible about closing dates, be prepared to act fast, and retain a number of options.

"Be prepared and don't sit on it," she said. "If you find a house you like, somebody else will like that house." 

Sellers should list their house in peak condition, she says, and be prepared to weather the buyer's market once their house is sold. 

"There's a buyer for every house and there's a house for every buyer," she said. "Sometimes it just takes some patience to find it." 

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