SAN ANTONIO — "Are you in a situation to be able to compete in this market?"
That's the question that realtor Sara Briseno Gerrish says every first-time homebuyer needs to ask themselves in a real estate market where homes have been getting harder to find for about the last two years.
In this episode of Commerce Street, a KENS 5 original business podcast, experts talked about how the seller's market is affecting rent and mortgage assistance programs, how first-time home buyers can still get the house of their dreams and the benefits of buying a home right now.
Listen to our full conversation with San Antonio Board of Realtors board member Sara Briseno Gerrish on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify or the podcast player below. (Article continues underneath).
Around the spring of 2021, stories started coming out of bidding wars, aggressive offers, and even gifts like cookies and muffins delivered to sellers to sweeten the deal.
The San Antonio Board of Realtors says around that time, we went into a "seller's market". There were many reasons for that...historically low interest rates, remote work causing people to seek out different living spaces, and people moving in from out of state, including California, for job opportunities and lower cost of living.
KENS: Tell me about your real estate experience here within the city of San Antonio.
Briseno Gerrish: I am a second generation realtor and have been in our industry 20 years. So I certainly have seen San Antonio in various real estate cycles.
KENS: How would you say that the past few years or really the past year and a half or so have compared to what you've seen over time?
Briseno Gerrish: Right now, we've had low inventory for a couple of years now, and that is probably contributed to a couple of factors. We have still record low interest rates and and honestly, just continued construction just hasn't been able to keep up with the demand. And so those of those items are kind of really showing why our market is so fast paced right now.
KENS: You work with a lot of first-time home buyers, too. What are some of the reasons that people now are choosing to buy?
Briseno Gerrish: I think that right now, though, there's still a lot of people that are wanting to take advantage of the historically low interest rates. And there's just people who are ready to transition from rental and buying. San Antonio is still a relatively affordable market compared to other big metropolitan areas in Texas. So, I mean, it's an attractive time to buy.
KENS: Are you finding that a lot of the buyers are from outside of San Antonio or within San Antonio? A little of the mix?
Briseno Gerrish: It's fair to say it's a mix. You do have people outside of Texas that come see our prices and they're amazed at the amount of square footage in the land that you can buy because we have a lower cost of living. So we are still relatively affordable, even though our prices are increasing. But, I would say there's a mix of people coming from out of state and then just locally, just moving around the metropolitan areas in Texas.
KENS: What do people love or get most excited about when you're showing them homes around San Antonio?
Briseno Gerrish: That's that's a good question. So, the joy of homeownership is always exciting. And, you know, everybody's experience is different. But just for that particular buyer to be able to imagine their own space and they decorate in their own safe space, see their dream home. That is a happy, magical part in itself. I think that is one of the most rewarding to people. And it's their own property. They don't have to answer to anybody and they can decorate as they want. And so it's it's an exciting time for people.
KENS: We've been hearing over the past year or so that the market is hot. If you want to buy, you're going to have to buy kind of fast. Are we still seeing that or has it slowed down at all?
Briseno Gerrish: So we are in what's called a seller's market. So basically what that means is that there are more buyers that there are actual homes for sale. And so because there's more buyers than there actually are homes for sale, you're starting to see it's been happening. Multiple offers situation, buyers submitting aggressive offers and just things moving really at a fast pace.
KENS: What tend to be some of the kind of tips that you have? Not quite for the first time home buyers, but just for all home buyers.
Briseno Gerrish: And so I would say the first the first tip I have for you is to get with a realtor. You can find a realtor at Sabor.com to find a knowledgeable realtor who knows today's market to put together an aggressive plan, because that's just what you're going to have to do in today's market. There's things that you could do with your offer. You're seeing a lot of people waive their appraisal continuances, shorter option or inspection periods. You're starting to see above list price just to kind of stand out from the crowd. And it's a multiple offer situation. But if you consult with your realtor, you can formulate a plan that that is best for you.
KENS: So shifting gears a little bit into what we're seeing in terms of rentals in San Antonio. What does the market look like right now in perspective to other years? Have rents been costing more or less? What are we going to see?
Briseno Gerrish: So I would say the shortage of inventory on the purchase market is certainly affecting the rental market. You have some people that maybe they do not want to compete in this kind of fast-paced market or maybe they just want to sit it out or wait till it cools off. And so this time of year is traditionally the busy time for sales and rentals. And so you are starting to see people say, 'Well, let me sit out in this purchase market and let me go ahead and continue to rent.' And so you are seeing rentals just like the purchase market go quickly and the rents, the rents are increasing also.
KENS: Is that typical for San Antonio for apartments to go super quickly?
Briseno Gerrish: I would say it's it seems to be going a little bit faster now. I think we've always kind of had a healthy real estate market, but things are certainly moving faster on the rental and the purchase market.
KENSL Now, you mentioned that now is typically a busy time of year for people to be moving homes. Why is that?
Briseno Gerrish: You know, typically when school ends and the kids are home, this is a time where you get your next move and try to get settled before the school year starts. It just seems like that is a typical time.
KENS: What are some of the things that someone who's deciding, OK, should I rent? Keep renting. Should I buy what are some of the things that you advise people to consider?
Briseno Gerrish: Well, I would consider when you talk to your realtor, you formulate a plan. Are you in a situation to be able to to compete with that in this market? Do you have your closing costs, right? Or do you have your down payment ready? And are you ready to to pull that trigger? Because things move so quickly? You do have to move aggressively once you identify a property you want to make an offer on. And so there's things to consider whether if you do want to compete that price with that process, because it is a longer process. It is it is a little bit of a roller coaster, emotional roller coaster when when you're dealing with multiple offers. And you may have to do it a couple of times. But again, you know, there's a lot of people who are taking advantage of the low interest rates. And so that's just a time to decide, you know, if this is the market for you or to continue renting. I would just say you just got to formulate a plan, which your realtor.
KENS: So let's shift gears a little bit into those people who are choosing to buy a home for the first time. What are some of the things I should think about or some of the tips that you have?
Briseno Gerrish: Well, I think it's important to to make your list of non negotiables and see if that is even possible in today's market just because things are moving quickly and there's just not a lot of inventory to choose from. And so in this market, you are seeing people maybe kind of be more flexible than they are in most markets. And so that's something where you have to decide, you know, if this is this is the time for you? I think that is the most important thing. If you are getting a mortgage, of course, you want to get your finances in order and make sure that you get your pre-approval ready and you're ready to go. And I think the important thing is just to be knowledgeable of today's market, be ready. It's going to be a longer process probably to finally to get a house. But, I think it's rewarding in the end, once you do get to the finish line.
ERICA: Have you been seeing any changes on the mortgage lending side of things?
Briseno Gerrish: So in today's fast paced market, you are seeing a lot of buyers, in order to compete in this multiple offer situation, do a appraisal waiver. And so that has to do a lot with your loan and your down payment. And so that's kind of discussions you should talk to with your realtor and and your lender to help you formulate that plan. But for sure, the number one step is to find out what's the best kind of loan for you and what are your options.
KENS: How are mortgage assistance programs being affected by this seller's market?
Briseno Gerrish: So there are still down payment assistance programs. It just depends on some of these programs. If there's additional contingencies, that's just something to keep in mind, because a lot of sellers today are looking for offers with the fewest amount of contingencies. So not to say that it's not impossible, but a lot of sellers because and they have to pick and choose with that being their market. So that's just something to consider in today's market.
KENS: So just for you personally, thinking back on the past year or so, what have you most enjoyed about this time or what have you loved overall about being a realtor in San Antonio?
Briseno Gerrish: I think what I've learned more about this process is that because the process is a little bit longer from when you actually start looking to when you actually close and you hand over the keys, I think that moment is a little bit more satisfying. It's just, you know, that's just part of the process to get together. So it's a longer journey. It's a bumpier journey. But the finish line does feel better.
KENS: Where are the best places to find some information maybe about what first time home buyers in San Antonio specifically should consider?
Briseno Gerrish: I would say that the best resource is to go to SABOR.com and there's a lot of resources in buying selling tips and identify your realtor to see who would work best with you.
We have more tips for first time homebuyers and ways to make your offer stand out below: