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What Military Families Need to Know About the 2021 Housing Market

by Lizann Lightfoot - September 27th, 2021

What Military Families Need to Know About the 2021 Housing Market

The 2021 Housing Market is in a wild state of change across the country. Unfortunately, this is bad news for military families who are moving this year and may want to buy homes near their next military assignment. However, it is very good news for families who are planning to sell a home before their next PCS move. This year, real estate has become an extreme seller’s market.

Last year, at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, real estate agents said that it was a good time to buy a home. The 2020 housing market report was based on the fact that interest rates were at record lows, home inventory was becoming limited, and home prices were starting to go up. That remained true through most of 2020, but in recent months we have seen an incredible change. PCSgrades interviewed several military-friendly real estate agents from trusted names in real estate, such as Coldwell Banker, Better Homes and Gardens, Corcoran, and Century 21.

Here is expert advice on buying and selling a house in 2021.

Limited inventory means competitive offers

“It is not good to be a buyer these days. The majority of homes are selling with multiple offers due to limited inventory. I recommend the buyer offer a high initial deposit, short closing on vacant homes, short inspection periods, personal letter, etc. to strengthen their offer.” –John Adair, Coldwell Banker Realty, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania “We are still seeing multiple offers in our local market. This is due to no inventory, low interest rates, and high buyer volume. Almost all price ranges are affected. In the markets I service there are approximately 10 buyers for each house. With inventory being so low, homes are selling within days. We are starting to see homes sell before the property even hits the multiple listing system.” –Claudette Alaimo, Coldwell Banker Realty, Connecticut

“The bidding wars are everywhere, at all price points. We have experienced being one of 10, 20 even 30 offers. We have been up against other buyers willing to waive inspections and purchase homes in as-is condition. Sellers have asked for free rent back for 60 days, and some buyers are willing to purchase sight unseen.” –Mary Schultz, Century 21 Affiliated, Madison, Wisconsin

“Just getting an appointment can be challenging.  Allowing only 15 minutes per showing is ridiculous and leads to angry agents and buyers. Setting up weekend tours can be very frustrating as many houses go pending prior to tour.” –Dawn Mueller, Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel, Northville, Michigan

Home prices are increasing

“As a Buyer’s Agent, I have tried to help them understand the limited inventory and the necessity to make an above list price offer for homes they like. In one case, they made an offer for $1,600,000 on a home that was listed for $1,500,000 with an escalation clause that they would pay $1,000 more than any other competitive offer if the seller provided a copy of the other offer. They were outbid by another buyer who did not have an Appraisal Contingency in their offer.” –Dan Jones, BH&G Metro, Atlanta, Georgia

“Since the listings are way down we are seeing multiple offers on most properties. Many of the offers are 10’s of thousands over the list price and a lot of them have escalation clauses in order to help put their offer over and above the others. Some are even saying that if the property does not appraise, the buyers will pay the difference between the appraisal and their offer price (if this is an offer that requires a mortgage). Some have even gone so far to say that the buyers will pay some of the seller’s closing costs.” –Nancy Petroff, CB Hubbell Briarwood, Lansing Michigan

“If you have a buyer with less than 20% down, the buyer should consider renting for a while. I have five active buyers. Every time we have written offers; we are beaten out by cash buyers. I was to show a house tomorrow. The agent that I have worked with several times called to tell me they have received two above list price cash offers with no inspections or appraisal. This is happening a lot in the $200-$300 price range. Even getting a lot for a new build is difficult. The floor plan prices are constantly increasing, and the buyer is expected to make up the difference.” –Wanda Kenney, Century 21 Scheetz, Indianapolis, Indiana

“In our state, it has been a buyer’s market with little or no price increases for almost 10 years. Since March of 2020, our prices have increased at least 14% or more in less than one year. I’ve been a full time Realtor in CT and MA since 1985 and thought I had experienced every market there is. But I have never experienced anything like this!” –Claudette Alaimo, Coldwell Banker Realty, Connecticut

Make an appealing offer

“Highest and best is the standard. I tell my clients to go in as strong as they can.  If we don’t win, we move on. I never recommend waiving inspections! Tighten up the timing 3-5 days if possible. Giving occupancy is sometimes the tie breaker.” –Dawn Mueller, Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel, Northville, Michigan

“There is a lot of competition right now. I advise my client to make the strongest offer up front because there is no guarantee the seller will counter. I do not recommend they remove the home inspection or appraisal contingencies.  If they need closing cost assistance, it will not work in this market.” –Jackie Fortune, Century 21 Millennium, Dale City, Maryland

“I am seeing multiple offers usually at least three or more on most homes. The offers that have conventional loan or cash buyers are usually the ones the sellers are accepting. If the buyer needs help in any of the closing costs or if they need to sell their home in order to purchase, I am finding the sellers are overlooking those offers. The less stipulations the better.” –Joune Clark, BH&G Metro Brokers, Atlanta, Georgia

“We are seeing very low inventory and multiple offers on every listing that comes on the market. I am offering increased or no option period, and increased earnest money. There are very few good listings on the market under $200,000. Great time to be a seller, not so for the buyers.” –Charmayne Lacewell, Houston, Texas

“We leverage our relationships with other agents to work together to get deals together. We advise our clients on how to structure their offer to make it most appealing when there is competition. When we are consulting with new buyer clients for the first time, we set their expectations and help prepare them for the market by getting their finances in order and discussing options for making our offers more competitive. Knowing the seller’s hot buttons helps. Having a respected lender make a call to the listing agent helps. More earnest money, quick closings, possession after close, shorter inspections are all things that can assist in getting a deal.” –Maureen Francis, CB Weir, Manuel, Michigan

Be careful with your loan and finances

“Going VA and FHA (loans) is really hard these days. I encourage buyers that can go conventional to do so. I am also encouraging larger initial down payments and a second deposit after inspection. I am asking for preferred closing dates from the listing agent. We are still using a buyer letter within fair housing guidelines. I’m not a fan of waiving inspections, but they will need to waive the appraisal rider when they go so far over asking. No one is accepting a Hubbard (contingency that you have to sell in order to buy). All price points and towns are super competitive with multiple offers. Some listing agents will cut off showings after a few days, others collect them for up to 5 days.” –Laureen Kennedy, Coldwell Banker Realty, Connecticut

“Many of the buyers are going over list price in order to have their offer accepted. Caution must be taken on the buyer’s part when going over list price by several thousand dollars because the appraisal could come in up to 3 weeks later at much less and this leaves the buyer in a place where they would have to come up with the extra money or terminate it because they cannot finance it. Some sellers will not go down in price due to this issue. It puts everyone in a terrible position. I am educating my clients when we first communicate and also letting them know to not give up and keep looking because the interest rates are so low right now and the rent rates continue to climb.” –Joune Clark, BH&G Metro Brokers, Atlanta, Georgia

Listen to your real estate agent!

“Sometimes, unfortunately clients make offers that are substantially below the list price and the seller will not even respond, or if they do respond their counter offer is just slightly below their list price. Generally, after the buyers lose some of their favorite homes they are more likely to listen to my advice and eventually make a reasonable offer.” –Dan Jones, BH&G Metro, Atlanta, Georgia

“Agents must prepare buyers, tells them to compromise and always go in with their highest and best offer. It is a great benefit for buyers to be able to access the pre-approval letter online and can actually update it as needed. Check to see if they can qualify for more. That way they are in a position to offer over list and possibly win the bid.”  –Mary Schultz, Century 21 Affiliated, Madison, Wisconsin

The 2021 housing market moves quickly and is challenging for buyers. If you are in the market to buy a home this year, it’s important to connect with a real estate agent several months before the date on your orders. So be patient, and stay in regular communication with your agent. Discuss your financial options with your loan officer to determine what will give you the most competitive offer.

PCSgrades offers a home buying and selling program called Military Real Estate Rewards that offers $350 – $7,500 in cash back rewards to those who have served our country and their families. Together, we can connect you with a military-friendly real estate agent who can help you buy or sell a home!

Lizann Lightfoot

Lizann Lightfoot

Lizann Lightfoot, the "Seasoned Spouse" is a professional writer and speaker for the military community. After two decades with her service member, she has completed 7 deployments, 6 PCS moves, raised 5 children, and published several books for military families. Her most recent book is "Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses" published Sept 2021 by Elva Resa. You can find Lizann's articles and resources at

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