BOZEMAN, Mont. — Just beyond the picturesque mountain faces of Montana, lies Bozeman. The small town has been a travel destination for decades, but now it’s experiencing a real estate boom.
Many of the locals are trying to make sure they’re not left out in the cold on the real estate run. It's been an issue for local Sean Hawksford and his wife, Jessica.
“We’ve been trying to buy a house here really actively since August,” Hawksford said.
When they started looking for a home, the couple was really optimistic.
“We’re going to make an offer, we’re going to buy a house, and we’re going to move in and it will be great,” Hawksford recalled.
Unfortunately, that’s when things in Bozeman started exploding.
“$300,000 turns into $400,000, turns into $500,000, turns into $700,000, turns into ordinary looking properties selling for nearly $1 million. The first house that we made an offer on in August has increased in value over $100,000 since we made an offer on it,” said Hawksford.
They’ve made a few more offers since that first.
“We made 18 offers that all got rejected that were competitive offers."
That's a tough market, but it’s not just Bozeman. Zillow data shows home values increasing in all of the largest 100 metro areas around the country.
It’s something realtor Mike Papantonakis has seen in Denver.
“We’ve got a lot of buyers. We don’t have a lot of homes for sale and it makes it very difficult for buyers to be able to buy a home," Papantonakis said.
It’s not just the Rockies in a housing shortage. Freddie Mac estimates there is a housing deficit of 2.5 million homes in the U.S. and that could grow.
Those numbers don’t look good for people like the Hawksfords, whose changing life makes their need for a home more urgent.
“As a first time expectant dad, it just made the future seem really real. We’ve got a bed that we have to roll into here and this is my wife’s desk and office and so the nursery would really have to be kind over in our closet,” said Hawksford.
So, Hawksford got desperate and did something a little different.
“You tried everything someone expects you to do, so why not try something no one expects you to do. So, my front sign just said, please sell me a home."
He made a sign out of cardboard and got on the side of the road and begged anyone to sell him a home.
People all over social media shared his picture.
Papantonakis says he’s never seen anyone beg on the street for a home, but he does have advice for what buyers can do to make offers more attractive.
“Have the lender, find a lender that will take you all the way through the approval process before you even start looking at the houses,” Papantonakis said.
That means don’t just get pre-approved. Get fully approved. Tell your lender you want to be fully approved and go through the entire underwriting process.
And have your broker ready to work for you.
“The broker should call the agent that’s listing the property, find out what’s important to the seller. Sometimes what’s important is they need to stay in the house after closing," Papantonakis recommends.
Papantonakis says don’t try and meet the sellers or send them gifts either, that won’t help your case.
In the case of Sean and his growing family, this story might hopefully have a happy ending.
“We just went under contract on a house last night,” he said.
They don’t want to jinx it, but looks like 19th time might be the charm for Sean, Jessica and their soon to be baby boy.