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Hyper-speed housing market takes a breath

July 2, 2017 GMT

You have to move fast to get the house or apartment you want (or can afford) in the Med City.

Rochester’s hyper-speed housing market is proving a challenge for people looking to upgrade, downsize, buy a first home or just rent an affordable apartment.

Similar to many major U.S. cities, Rochester is seeing a very strong sellers’ market, with some homes getting multiple bids and selling for more than their listing price. Meanwhile, hundreds of luxury apartments are being built throughout the city.

While it seems the market is down-shifting a bit and “taking a breath,” things still are tight as the city prepares for the annual arrival of the latest batch of Mayo Clinic residents.

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“The first five and a half months of the year were crazy. In May, it quieted down some. It’s not all that different from the housing bubble back in 2004 to 2006,” said veteran Rochester Realtor Ron Wightman, of Wightman-Brock Real Estate Advisors. “There’s still a need for inventory, but there’s not the fever there was.”

Properties still are selling quickly and possibly with multiple offers, but a good house now could be on the market for a couple weeks before the right buyer comes along.

However, the market still is tight enough that when a roomful of Realtors hears a young couple is buying a house contingent on selling their own, a collective gasp is heard, as if a unicorn just walked through the door.

‘Ready for more space’

Ahmed and Lenae Makkawy recently decided their Slattery Neighborhood house was not as large as they’d like.

“We’re just ready for more space,” said Lenae, 30. “We want to stay in Rochester, long-term.”

They started looking at homes. Homes in their price range were getting multiple offers and selling quickly. However, they stumbled into a good deal when the sale of a house they wanted fell through at the last minute of the closing. The sellers, who already had moved out, agreed to sell it to the Makkawys on contingency.

That’s an unusual arrangement in a seller’s market, where many people are bidding over list price for the house they want. House flippers, people who buy a run-down property and fix it up to turn a profit, often are forgoing the usual inspection of the house.

It turned out to not be a big gamble for the seller. The Makkawys listed their house on June 23, and it sold for above list price within 30 hours. Ahmed Makkawy, who had a stable job and no college debt at 23, bought their house in 2006 for $132,000. The couple liked that house’s location, which allowed them to walk to the farmers market and Thursdays on First and Third.

He bought his first house just as the roller coaster hit its peak and then the estimated value plummeted in the recession to $90,000 by 2008.

Today’s hot market allowed them to sell for $163,000, money they are using to buy their new house in the Hart’s Farm subdivision.