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New buyers find Phoenix real estate market a learning process

Four months and almost 20 house tours later, Fletcher and Lauren are closer, but not yet closing, on their first home.

The couple is representative of a growing number of prospective buyers who are having a difficult time finding entry-level homes in the Phoenix area in the low $200,000 range.

“It really takes the wind out of your sails,” said Fletcher, a first responder who requested that we not use his last name.

Low inventory in the north Phoenix area where he and Lauren hope to find an ideal living space for themselves and their baby daughter has made the bidding process very competitive and, at times, disruptive to the young couple’s lives.

“You have to basically view the homes right now when they’re available,” Fletcher said. “Something might come on the market in the area where we want to look and then within 24 hours, it’s gone. Somebody has already bought it.”

Renters on-and-off for the past 10 years, Fletcher and Lauren have learned to move quickly when an available home pops up on the market. But as they’ve learned throughout the process, being first out of the gate is no guarantee, especially when you’re up against deep-pocket buyers with cash in hand.

Despite their highs and lows, the couple’s Realtor, Diane Brennan of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Arizona Properties, is optimistic that Fletcher and Lauren will find a home they love, if not their dream home.

“There are new listings in their price range and desired area all the time,” Brennan said. “The home buying process is exactly that, a learning process, and new buyers are learning they have to be more aggressive in terms of timing. ”

Brennan, who is also the host of KTAR News 92.3 FM’s That Real Estate Show, added being flexible when it comes to zip codes can also fast-track the search process. Making a few sacrifices and taking a few items off the “wants” list, she said, can also help.

And don’t be afraid to approach a seller with a personal plea.

“It doesn’t hurt to send a note with the offer describing your situation,” Brennan said. “You may be able to find a seller out there that’s willing to give a young family a break. I don’t know how many of those sellers are out there, but it’s always worth a try.”

Join Realtor Diane Brennan for That Real Estate Show Sundays at 8 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM.