The Mutschelknauses’ purchase offer was contingent on the sale, so they had an incentive to accept a buyer’s offer quickly.
“We received a full-price offer for our home, so even though we were a little nervous that we might be leaving money on the table, we were confident that we were getting the upper end of what we could expect,” says Joe Mutschelknaus. “Even if we had gotten a higher price, we weren’t sure if it would appraise for that amount.”
You’ve heard of flash mobs and Flash Player: Now there are “flash sales” — a term the real estate brokerage Redfin coined to refer to homes that sell in a day or less.
When too few homes are available for sale, buyers and their agents are forced to move fast when a home comes on the market. Thus, some agents are pre-marketing their sellers’ homes to ramp up the possibility of a deal the day a home is entered into the multiple listing service.
The quick sale has advantages for buyers and sellers who want to get ahead of the competition and avoid dragging out the process. But some experts cite some pitfalls: In going for the early offers, sellers might miss out on some potentially higher bids later. And buyers in those quick deals often waive inspections, potentially harming themselves later when they wind up spending thousands of dollars to correct problems that could have been identified early and fixed by the seller.
“Flash sales are clearly an outgrowth of the imbalance of supply and demand in attractive areas,” says John L. Heithaus, chief marketing officer of MRIS, the Rockville-based multiple listing service for the Washington region. “Flash sales don’t do buyers any good, because rationality goes out the window when competition kicks in. Sellers in a flash sale are likely to wonder if they could have gotten a better price for their home.”
According to data firm RealEstate Business Intelligence (RBI), a subsidiary of MRIS, 350 homes sold in March within two days, up from 237 in March 2012. Also last month, 174 homes were sold with zero days on the market, up from 134 in March 2012.
Inventory is at near-historic lows. From March 2012 to March 2013, the number of listings, according to RBI, fell 40.12 percent.
Although data — including days on the market — can provide some information about fast home sales, Ron Sitrin, a real estate agent with Long & Foster in Washington, says statistics can’t tell you what’s happening behind the scenes.
“In some cases, buyers or their Realtors have advance notice that a home is coming on the market,” says Sitrin. “Buyers want to get into a house before it’s listed and to avoid the competitive market at all costs.”