When homebuyer Adrian Cronin browsed real estate listings in The Colony one morning in mid-December, she wasn’t expecting to put an offer on a house. She was new to the housing market in Collin County, but the more time she spent looking at houses, the more she began to see that she couldn’t afford to wait. 

In Collin County, COVID-19 didn’t put a dent in the housing market. In fact, it’s a seller’s market; there are more people trying to buy a house in Collin County than there are houses to buy.

“I was looking for a renovated, updated, one-story house in a safe neighborhood, in my budget,” she says. Namely, what everyone was looking for. “You read through hundreds of listings, you finally find a house that sticks out to you, you think, ‘I’ll contact my realtor tomorrow. And within hours it’s under contract.” Once she clicked on a listing to look at it, and by the time the page loaded it was under contract. 

“With how quickly houses are going, you need to be actively looking. You want the hidden gem house, and the good ones go so quick.” Everyone, she says, is thinking the same thing when they see a good listing: “I have to jump on this.” 

So when her dream house in Collin County was listed at 7 a.m., she didn’t wait. Within hours, the house had four competing bids. That afternoon, she made an offer, and that evening, she signed the contract. 

“The house was on the market for like 12 hours,” she says. “When you see a house like that, you have to jump on it.” 

That’s the nature of Collin County’s housing market these days.

According to David Long, an area realtor for the past 11 years and the 2020 president of the Collin County Association of Realtors, says that stories like these are common these days. “This time of year, it’s normally slow, after Thanksgiving, through New Years. Then it picks up. But this year, exacerbated by the pandemic, we have an inventory shortage of homes.” 

Currently, Collin County enjoys a strong job market. When the pandemic hit, the need to buy a house remained. Realtors were considered essential, so the work never stopped; they simply incorporated masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves, and kept selling.

“We were down for about three weeks due to COVID-19,” Long says. “By mid-April, things picked up, and by July 2020, we were ahead of where we’d been in July 2019.”

However, the pandemic affected other industries, like the production of materials, which slowed down the building of new homes, contributing to the sellers market we see now. “Lumber, concrete, roofing, all sorts of things going up to play catch up,” Long explains. 

“You’d think it would be worse, but the market is bigger than last year,” he says. “We’ve closed more sales in 2020 than we did in 2019. Not only that, prices are higher. According to the CCRA, from 2019 to 2020, housing prices went up about $17,000. 

CCRA’s information suggests that homes under $100,000 are near impossible to find in markets like Plano, Allen, McKinney, and Frisco. Only a small percentage of homes are under $200,000; 0.7 percent in McKinney, and 2.8 percent in Allen, for example. The bulk of Collin County listed homes are between $300,000 and $400,000. 

It’s part of the reason more people are looking to Anna, Celina, and beyond for a good price. 

In 2019, a house could spend an average of 61 days on the market, between its listing and it going under contract. In 2020, the average days on market was 49. New listings, which tend to be snapped up fastest, are there for even less time. 

“A lot of people, when they’re first looking to buy, say ‘I want to think about it overnight.’ If you do that today, you’ll lose out,” Long says.

 Because of the demand, he suggests buyers seek pre-approval for their loans, so that the moment they find the right house, they’re ready to make a bid. 

As for how long the market will boom, there may be no end in sight. “It’s going to last longer than we think,” Long predicts. “We still have stories of companies moving here, people are still coming. You see that house you really like, you better be ready to act. If it’s in good shape, make a decent offer.”