Buyers are offering thousands of dollars over asking prices.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the April 2020 issue of Columbus Monthly, which went to press in mid March. For an updated look at Central Ohio real estate, check out the cover story of our June issue, on newsstands now.

Columbus has been tagged as the seventh hardest city in the nation to find a home, and so in today’s overheated real estate market, when multiple buyers make offers on a house, they are often required to make special efforts to win.

Patrick and Stacey Morris, of Columbus, know firsthand. They entered the housing rat race, spending a couple of months looking at condos they liked, but buyers snatched them up so quickly, they never got a chance to make an offer.

“Everything would be gone or in contingency before we even had a chance to make an offer on it,” Patrick says. “When you get a chance, you can’t really negotiate too much and so we offered more than asking price. The process is crazy.”

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Competition for homes here has been fierce in a landscape that’s been considered a seller’s market since 2015.

Columbus is ranked as one of the top three fastest growing cities in the country, and there’s a housing stock shortage. With a million additional people predicted for the region by 2050, competition is only expected to grow, says Lisa Halpert, a real estate agent with Home Central Realty.

When a home under $400,000 goes on the market, buyers swarm and the seller is swamped by multiple offers. If a potential buyer really wants the home, they must often throw in some extras, Halpert says.

“One home for $315,000 in Lewis Center got 16 offers and we offered $5,000 over the value, assuming the appraised value was the list price,” she says. “If you want a house today and you are desperate for it, it is what you’ve got to do.”

Throwing more money at a seller than they are seeking is not the only way to go. To get the property, potential buyers now often waive the appraisal clause, any home inspection and any needed remedies to fix problems in the home. Some buyers will even forgo a warranty on the house, Halpert says.

“One client offered $20,000 over the asking price and waived the inspection and remedies,” she says. “I always tell my buyers in multi-offer situations to go with what they are comfortable with out of pocket, but I don’t encourage waiving the inspection.”

The situation can be a rude awakening, especially for first-timers.

The Morris family stuck with their search and finally secured a condo in Blacklick.

“We offered a plus $2,000 if it did not appraise at the asking price and the first time [an offer was made] we didn’t get it,” Patrick says. “There were two units [for sale] and when the second came available four doors down, we offered the same thing and got it, but you feel like you are overpaying for everything now.”