Dolly Lenz: Do not underestimate first-time homebuyers

The founder of Dolly Lenz Real Estate told Inman Connect attendees that new development and rising employment is leading to activity in unexpected places

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You hear the whispers everywhere you turn: Home prices are so over the top that nobody wants to buy.

But while rising home prices have sent affordability plummeting nationwide, agents aren’t sitting back and waiting until the market turns around.

Indeed, the current seller’s market is leading to untapped opportunities in other areas of the market, according to experts who spoke Wednesday on a panel entitled, “The Housing Market You Want Is Here Now, You Just Haven’t Noticed” during Inman Connect Las Vegas.

Patrick Stone

“I’ve been trying to find a year that’s been a normal market over the last 40 years,” said Patrick Stone, founder of Williston Financial Group. “I haven’t found it.”

While wage growth and high employment contribute to rising home values, they also give more people the opportunity to buy, according to Stone. Low interest rates are also allowing first-time homebuyers to make the switch from renting to owning.

“Interest rates being down is great for us,” Stone said. “It allows more people to buy.”

Dolly Lenz, the founder of Dolly Lenz Real Estate, said that new development and rising employment is leading to activity in unexpected places — Boise, Idaho and Naples, Florida, for example.

Baby boomers who pass wealth down to their children also improve the market. According to Lenz, millennials may take longer to buy a family and form a home, but most will eventually want to stop renting. She believes that we may have already passed the slump that came from millennials not being able to buy homes. As many grow older, pay down student loans and form joint households, the desire to buy increases as well.

Dolly Lenz

“It might take longer, but they’ll get to the same place,” she said, adding that first-time homebuying is expected to explode in the coming years. “They’ll want to own.”

Lenz added that, although we no longer see the same bidding wars and ultra-competitive market of a decade ago, people are still seeking to buy. As a result, agents should tap into previously unexplored pockets of opportunity — first-time homebuyers, in particular — to take advantage of whichever way the market turns.

“We see general cautious optimism,” Lenz said.

Email Veronika Bondarenko