Probably the biggest frustration I’m hearing from buyers these days is, “Where are all the houses?” The problem transcends price range and location, and even buyer demographic. What’s going on?

It’s been many months now of a below-normal supply of homes for sale in most regions. And, according to a recent analysis from, this year is expected to be even more challenging. “We started 2017 with the lowest inventory of homes for sale since the recession, and possibly in decades,” said Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke.

Add to that the expectation that interest rates will rise to perhaps 4.5 percent or more this year. The result? The demand for homes has become even more intense, and will only get more competitive as the calendar year goes on.

Real estate experts say that eight of the 10 “best value” days (statistically) to buy in a new year are generally in February, and the other two are in January. For 2017, those days have come and gone, but the analysts maintain savvy buyers can still obtain discounts—albeit smaller ones—in April. However, they say, if home buyers wait until the period from May through September, they are likely to pay a premium of up to five percent above the median home price for their area.

So what to do? Don’t give up. Here are five creative ideas for finding a home in a low-inventory market:

  1. Be clear on your ideal location/neighborhood(s).
  2. Search expired listings.
  3. Don’t rule out sale pending listings. Make a back-up offer that will put you in a first place position if the other buyer walks away.
  4. Talk to people in the neighborhood – do they or anyone they know want to sell? Consider door knocking. (Granted, this is desperation and it is recommended you be accompanied by a realtor.)
  5. Join groups or follow social media pages from that location, in hopes of a “Home for Sale” posting.

Finding a home in a low-inventory market is not impossible, but it is a challenge. Work with your realtor (that’s me!) in coming up with out of the box ideas for finding listings that may not surface on an initial MLS search. Have your financing all ready to go, be realistic about your inspection expectations, and be ready to start with your best offer. All these will contribute to your best chances at being in your dream home come summertime!

Doug Lawrence is a licensed broker with Keller Williams West Sound in Gig Harbor, Washington. Finding the right buyer for the right house (or the right house for the right buyer) at the right time is his specialty. You can reach Doug at or

(c) 2017 Doug Lawrence. All Rights Reserved.