How new homebuyers can compete during this 'worst time to buy'


On a warm April afternoon, Andrew DeMasters waited in a steady line with his real estate agent at an open house in Westbury for a three-bedroom split-level home listed at $829,000 that already had five offers over the asking price.

DeMasters, 31, and his fiancee rent an apartment in Forest Hills and have been looking for a house in Nassau for six months. Their dream of owning a home has been stymied by other first-time buyers all competing for the few homes for sale at higher-than-expected prices.

"We're trying our best just to get out there and stay competitive because that's what the market demands right now," DeMasters said. "We had to adjust our budget to potentially put a little bit more down on an offer than we were first considering. But I remain undeterred."

At another open house that Saturday afternoon, 60 people waited at a four-bedroom Colonial in Bethpage listed at $649,000. An hour later, as the line grew behind him, James Sawab, 29, who is renting in Queens, stood patiently. He’s been looking for a house for five months.

"I thought for a while the prices might stabilize, but I don't think it's going to come down and might even go higher," said Sawab, who has also been outbid for several houses and has adjusted his budget from $600,000 to $750,000. "I’m not going to wait anymore, just try to give a best offer and be aggressive."

First-time homebuyers like DeMasters and Sawab have learned to adapt to the ongoing competitive market that erupted in the wake of the 2020 pandemic shutdown.

"It’s the best time to sell and the worst time to buy," said Maddy Camay, broker associate for Compass USA in Syosset, who added "it's "a very difficult time for buyers because of all the multiple offers coming on each property that’s priced right."