‘I’ve never seen anything like it’: Kansas City in middle of housing boom as homes sell fast

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OLATHE, Kan. — Despite the pandemic, Kansas City is in the middle of a housing boom.

Homes are on the market for just days before being sold, and they sometimes go for well over the listing price.

Lindsay and Jared Gulbranson have been in their Olathe home for eight years.

“We’ve loved being here,” Lindsay Gulbranson said. “We’ve loved the space, but just you know it’s just time for us to move on to the next stage.”

With their kids getting older, they’re looking for something a little bigger and closer to school and work in downtown Kansas City.

“I’m so nervous about that day, the day that we say goodbye because everything is, all of our firsts have happened here,” Lindsay Gulbranson said. 

Their real estate agent, Brad Papa, is working with them on their next chapter.

“To try and sell a house and then buy a house is pretty much going to be near impossible,” Papa told them.

That’s right; Papa’s advice is to buy a house before they sell.

Area houses are selling fast, while buyers struggle to even have a shot at property in their price range.

“In March, I’ll start my 17th year in real estate, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Papa said.

He said there are a lot of factors at play, like people not wanting to move with the uncertainty of a pandemic and after an election, and supply and demand when it comes to inventory.

“Roughly 54% less than what we had last year is what’s available, so we’ve been at an inventory shortage for five or six years, and now we’re at basically half of where we were at before,” Papa said.

Adding to that, he said new construction has slowed in part due to drastic increases in lumber and steel prices. Some reports have lumber costs up more than 100% in the last year.

With so much uncertainty, Papa and his team are trying to help buyers.

“What we’re trying to do … is create an inventory by finding out people who would move but they just don’t know where we’re going, so we put enough spreadsheets together, we feel like we can create a domino effect,” Papa said.

The Gulbransons are well aware of the struggles buyers face. They started house hunting in December.

“We’ll find that we’re looking at a property that we thought was in our price range. We’ve done the pre-approval, we know what we want to spend and we know what we’re looking for. But by the time it gets to putting in an offer, it’ll sell for a price point that makes it not available to us anymore,” Lindsay Gulbranson said. 

Looking forward, Papa said a rise in interest rates could stall things out, but he wouldn’t expect to see that in the near future.

The Gulbransons want to move before school starts, so the clock is ticking.

“We’re just going to keep trying until it pans out,” Lindsay Gulbranson said. “Everyone keeps telling us to trust the system.”

For buyers, Papa said people should expect to lose at least seven homes they like in the process. He said to be considered, make sure to use a local lender with a reputable name for pre-approval.

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