What do real estate agents do when they run out of inventory?

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

When a market is sold out, with no properties available to potential buyers, what does a real estate agent in Wyoming do?

It’s not the quiet life one would expect, said three officers who spoke to the Cowboy State Daily.

“Because the inventory is so tight, they have to really dig deep to find listings and help buyers find these properties.” said Jim Hickey of Engel & Völkers Real Estate in Jackson Hole. “It’s like an Easter egg hunt. It is very difficult because there is so little there.

“It’s very, very thin right now,” said Zack Cummins, who is chairman of the Sheridan County Board of Realtors. “There have been times when I’ve worked in this market where we had over 300 active listings, and I think the total number of active residential listings this year, we’re at 120, or something like that, which, a good chunk of these are probably under contract.

“The other day one of my agents told me she had four pages of (potential buyers)…and couldn’t find anything to show them,” he added.

Hickey said that over the past two years, his inventory in Sublette County has shrunk to almost nothing.

“I had quite a few listings ranging from commercial properties to vacant land, more ranch and hobby listings, and over the last couple of years from early 2019 to 2021 we’ve sold the lion’s share of these,” Hickey said. “We’re reduced to a handful of single-family lots in the subdivision, and a larger piece that could be subdivided or create this kind of trophy ranch.”

“We have a very good number of ranches under contract that will be closing this year,” said Mike Fraley, a real estate agent who primarily sells ranch properties with Hall and Hall in the Buffalo/Sheridan area. “But we feel like it’s a carryover from last year, and it’s unclear what the market will do this year. If there’s a desirable ranch or ranch that’s on the market right now moment, if it’s still on the market, it’s probably two things: it’s too expensive, beyond what a buyer thinks it’s reasonable to dig into; or there are problems with it, there may – be easements or encumbrances or things that are undesirable.

Additionally, prices for property being sold have skyrocketed over the past two years, Hickey told the Cowboy State Daily.

“We sold single-family homes or single-family homes on a certain acreage, and then literally six months later, or not even a quarter later, a similar property could go for $100,000 or more,” Hickey said. “Sometimes they would sell, sometimes they wouldn’t, but the prices would go up at a rate that I can’t even explain.”

Cummins shared data the Sheridan Board of Realtors recently compiled that showed that between 2020 and 2021, the number of active residential listings fell from 950 to 857, a reduction of about 10%. New registrations fell from 776 in 2020 to 748 in 2021, a reduction of approximately 4%.

The value of properties sold during the year increased by 26%, which Cummins attributes to the increase in the average sale price, as the number of properties sold increased by only 1%.

“And that’s because there was a 25% increase in the average selling price,” he said. “The average sale price for 2020 was $323,790. In 2021, the average sale price for that year — and that’s just from a residential perspective — was $403,900.

Due to the lack of inventory, real estate agents are turning to other methods to find properties for sale.

“I would say about a third of our activity, probably even a little more, has been what we call private ads,” Fraley said. “Things that are not actively marketed. Maybe a top seller comes up to us and says, “Hey, you know, I’m probably a good price seller.” I just want it to be discreet. “

“I know realtors who send out mailings to neighborhoods saying, ‘We have buyers in your neighborhood,’” Cummins said.

There have been a few instances of “buyer’s remorse” these agents have witnessed over the past year from buyers outside of Wyoming who purchased properties without experiencing a winter in the Wyoming.

“I spoke to one of my Bozeman partners,” Fraley said. “He said they were starting to see some of these guys who came out in the COVID crisis and wanted space, and now they’re here and they’re like, ‘Huh, not quite the amenities and the weather that I thought. ‘”

“The most extreme example would have been July 2020,” Cummins recalled. “We have sold a beautiful dwelling house. And in October of that year, we had a week-long cold snap that hit 10 below, 15 below, something like that. It was just crazy cold weather for October, and the girl from California who bought the house in July, turned around and put it on the market in October. So she didn’t last very long at all.

Despite the lack of inventory, Hickey said no one should feel sorry for real estate agents.

“Real estate agents have been very successful in buying and selling real estate for their clients lately,” he said.

“Right now, everything indicates there are still buyers out there,” Fraley said, “and there’s still money out there and they’re trying to find a place to put it. Inventory is the problem.

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