When Lauren and her husband found their unicorn dream home in Dallas, Texas, they knew they needed to act fast.
Dallas — also known affectionately as Big D — is a hot real estate market that’s only getting hotter.
According to the latest real estate data, current active listings are down 29.6% in the city, while home sales are up 20% from November 2019 to November 2020.
With more homes being sold and fewer on the market, a strong seller’s market is emerging. Today, Dallas buyers are faced with rising home prices (up 13.6% just in the last year!), low inventory, and strong competition.
“We’re dealing with record low levels of inventory,” says top Dallas real estate agent Troy Olson, who works with 76% more single-family homes than the average area agent.
According to Olson, even before the coronavirus hit, the conditions of a seller’s market were already in motion in the major metropolitan area.
“Things were humming,” he shares. “We had launched a really good January and February, and then the brakes got put on it.”
But before the coronavirus came and changed everything, back in a more innocent time (ahem, 2019), Olson helped Lauren’s family bag their dream home, and get quite a deal doing it. Here’s their story.
The unicorn property that started it all
Lauren and her husband weren’t planning to buy a new house — that is, until their dream home popped up on listing sites in the summer of 2019.
“Our situation is a little atypical in that we weren’t necessarily looking to move,” Lauren admits. “I was just playing around online, and I found mine and my husband’s dream home. And it’s kind of a unicorn property, just very unique.”
The Dallas, Texas, home was conveniently located in the city — within an attractive homeowners association (HOA) community — yet it sat on a beautiful five-acre parcel at the end of a cul-de-sac, backing up to a creek.
With four bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, 4,000 square feet of living space, a four-car garage, and light pouring in from massive windows, the home was a perfect compromise between the couples’ individual needs.
The property offered the community and amenities of city life that Lauren was craving, and it gave her husband the privacy and outdoor space he was looking for.
“I always thought to get the acreage my husband wanted, I’d be out in the boonies, and this is definitely not that,” Lauren laughs. “I didn’t have to give up anything in terms of neighborhood or having neighbors or that kind of a lifestyle where it’s more communal.”
The two knew that with the competitive market in Dallas, they’d need to jump on the home quickly, so they called in Olson, who they’d worked with on their previous purchase.
Timing was of the essence
The thing about unicorn properties is they don’t show up often, and they don’t stick around long.
“I’m in the real estate industry, but we’re in the business of communication,” Olsen explains.
“Everybody wants everything right now. Whoever gets there first, gets it.”
He booked a showing for the couple immediately so they didn’t lose out on the opportunity.
A year prior, they’d gone under contract on a similar property, only to find out during the inspection that it needed a lot more work than they were up for. This time, though, the couple’s luck changed.
“The seller had just had another contract fall out, so our timing was nice in terms of, there wasn’t actually a bidding war on it,” Lauren says. “I also think based on the uniqueness of the property, it attracted a very specific kind of clientele, because not everybody wants that much land to maintain.”
In this way, the property’s uniqueness actually helped the couple win their dream home. The biggest challenge would be figuring out an offer strategy.
… And finding comparables was a challenge
“To be on five acres in the city is unheard of — it just doesn’t exist,” Olson reveals. “But they’ve got dogs and wanted to raise a family, and didn’t want to be boxed in on a normal subdivision where you’re on a quarter acre and you’ve got three houses surrounding you.”
Still, there’s one nice thing about buying a run-of-the-mill subdivision home: As a buyer, it’s relatively easy to figure out its market value through comparable sales, and then base your offer around your findings.
But because this property was so unique and so outside the norm in terms of acreage, it was a challenge to find comparable homes and determine an appropriate offer amount.
That’s where the couple really leaned on Olson’s expertise. The veteran real estate agent did a lot of market research and helped them come up with a winning offer strategy.
“We had to go outside of that normal one-mile subdivision formula to try to find other things, and then make adjustments on the value,” Olson recalls.
Landing the offer and gaining some equity
In the end, their diligence — and Olson’s market expertise — paid off.
“After negotiations and counter-offers, we ended up coming in under their asking price by $10,000,” Lauren shares proudly.
Not only that, but their appraisal came in $25,000 over the sales price, immediately netting them more equity in the home.
“We feel like we got a great deal, because we got everything we wanted for less than it was listed for, and we ended up closing with extra equity that we didn’t pay for,” she adds.
Lauren credits Olson with helping the couple focus on the most important things in the negotiations, especially after the inspection.
“He helped us walk through, what are the big-ticket items that will be costly for us to maintain on our own once we take ownership of the house,” she explains. “And how do we focus on just those items for negotiations, to be more strategic.”
A 30-day closing
The couple’s closing went off without a hitch, and they were able to close in an impressive 30 days. Considering they were buying and selling simultaneously, the feat was especially monumental.
But, Olson cautions, you can’t expect turnaround times like that anymore when buying a home in Dallas. That’s because the coronavirus pandemic and rock-bottom mortgage rates have created a massive surge in home lending.
“There’s so many people refinancing, there’s a shortage of appraisers,” Olson says. “And underwriters are backed up to the moon.”
If you’re planning to buy a home in Dallas anytime soon, he adds: “Give lenders an extra week right now to operate.”
The best of all worlds
Lauren and her husband are thrilled with their new home. It’s the perfect spot for their family to grow into, and they feel even better that Olson helped them get such a great deal.
“Any buyer goes into a home, and you start thinking with your heart,” Lauren shares.
“You try to picture your family meals together, and raising your kids, and your dogs playing in the backyard and all the little things.”
But real estate is an investment, and it’s part of an agent’s job to remind you to think with your head, too. Olson helped the couple think about the property as a long-term investment, not just a home.
Lauren feels she and her family made a sound move for both their heads and their hearts.
“The right property, the right timing. Everything came together,” she gushes.
Header Image Source: (Tavarius / ShutterStock)