Buying in Today’s Real Estate Market: The Shoe’s on The Other Foot…and it HURTS!


I’ve had an eagle’s eye view of the changing landscape of the Phoenix real estate market the last few years, and I have to admit it’s been nice. Buyers clamoring over each other for our properties starts to make you feel like a sinister character from a Disney movie…”Hahahaha, minions! Fight for this dilapidated abode!” (as I throw my head back with a belly laugh and bang my staff on the ground.)

However, I’ve been hunting for a small multi-family property, and decided to use MLS as a source. “Why not?” I thought, cradling the thought that I am an experienced real estate professional, I should be able to scrape a deal together easily, right? And then reality set in.

Ever seen that scene from Boiler Room where the newbie is waiting in the lobby, having arrived for the interview of a lifetime? The synopsis of it is, there’s many well-dressed, aggressive, young men sitting around waiting for the same job, and he purveys them. His curiosity gets the better of him and he sneaks past the lobby and covertly opens the door to the trading-floor like room where the main business is done. In an instant the yelling, cursing, siren of the telephones pierces the calm and he’s taken aback at how wild it is, in just a glimpse. THAT’S what hunting for a cash-flowing multiplex here in Phoenix has felt like lately.

Being privvy to both sides of the transaction now, and being somewhat war-wounded (not really, just looking for pity I guess), let this limping soldier impart some insight if you are also in a hot market. Or, simply use this as fodder for your own entertainment. It’s ok…I would too!

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Throwing Bones

One thing I’ve learned: when you get a lead, scramble.

Whatever you’re doing, stop and put an offer together. Now. Showering? It can wait. Cooking dinner? Let it burn. Personal moments with loved ones? They’ll understand…it’s your financial future at stake!

I get MLS alerts for properties I may be interested in, filtered by the parameters I’m looking for. What’s nice is that as soon as they hit the market (or any other status change I’ve indicated it to send me), I get them instantaneously. Somehow, when a property hits the MLS that makes any sort of sense to anyone out there in Buying Land, offers seem to have appear instantly (or as I imagine it a room full of monkeys shouting and typing and faxing, with a main monkey slave driver…yes, this must be where all those offers come in from so quickly!!)

I’ve had it happen several times that by the time I pick up the phone to ask if they have any offers (this could be less than 30 minutes of it being listed), there’s multiple offers. I’ve literally been on the phone with a receptionist asking the details and she started saying “Oh, here’s another one. Actually, another one just came in..” her voice just trailed off and I knew my beaut was a goner. (the property, not the receptionist.)

If you’re lucky enough to get an off-market deal, treat it the same way, though. Hustling is one thing, the name of the game right now is basically, sit by the phone and tape a fax machine and computer to your person.

Maybe I’ll Just Take my Ball and Go Home

Like a spoiled child, I’ve had instances where I felt like I should just pack up, turn my back, and let the other kids have their stupid homes, I mean toys. Who wants to play with them anyway, bullies!

But, the tortoise’s wisdom kicks in and I know real estate is a marathon, not a sprint. Given, there won’t be stellar opportunities at today’s pricing forever, but really, this is all just a numbers game.

Deep breathing, with mantras like “20% Cash on Cash Retuuuurn” and “Cashhhhhh Floooooowwwww” help keep me calm and my head in the game. I keep making offers, but more importantly don’t let emotion get in the way. Finding a few killer deals is better than 10 minimal ones, truly.

There’s a threshold for error in an appreciating market, but you still have to be mindful. When the properties start to get bid up, my numbers don’t make sense, and I know when to bow out. When my marketing sends me off-market deals, I certainly feel even more privileged now.

To the Buyers out there, I feel your pain. And to the Sellers… game on!

What about you, readers? Are any of you in a hot market and have war stories of buying property to share?
Photo: Libby

About Author

Tracy Royce

Tracy (G+) is an Arizona Short Sale Realtor, Investor, Rehabber, and Foreclosure Expert. She also is an avid blogger, vlogger and consultant on all things Arizona Foreclosures.


  1. Tracy, I completely feel your pain! I am licensed in Florida and am experiencing the same thing with multiple offers. When I see a good deal come through my MLS alerts, I have to jump on it immediately or it’s gone. I’m about to get a short sale under contract but only because the bidder above me backed out. I also agree that it’s critical stick to your numbers and be willing to let one go rather than get caught up in trying to outbid everyone.

    I am stepping up my other marketing to compensate…failure isn’t an option since I just quit my 20 year corporate job to go full time with this in January! Happy hunting 🙂

  2. Jeff Brown

    Hey Tracy — Your two points about long term investing being a marathon, and not letting emotion win the day, are golden. Even those who value those thoughts, however, sometimes don’t get the depth of their real message.

    Even paying more than you’re used to these days, given the long term mindset, is a ‘deal’. Those old enough to remember previous cycles will smile at this memory. Back in the mid-late 70s folks begin their loud complaining about rising prices, and worsening rent/price ratios. What they didn’t think about was the next 20 miles of their ‘marathon’. If they’d only kept buying to the extent they were able, they’d have locked in interest rates literally 70-100% lower than what became reality in 1981. Those who wisely kept investing with the relatively lower interest rates were huge winners when the cycle returned to ‘normal’.

    With rates now creeping over 5% for investors, the smart ones are buying like banshees. Good stuff, Tracy.

  3. Rita Phillips on

    Good take on Phoenix market of last few years. As a realtor and personal investor, if you managed to get through it and keep your head straight (wasn’t easy), we certainly gained insight to all sides of the market, good & bad, unlike ever before.
    My investor clients are still on the hunt. And yep, it’s slim pickings out there now, but logic still prevails.

  4. Tracy – I can certainly feel your pain. I don’t remember the last time I saw a decent MF property that had any chance of cash flow hit the MLS in PHX. I feel lucky now that from 2009 -2011 we literally bought everything we could. I would have never imagined that the market would recover so fast and strong. We have a 32 unit complex in Pinal County that we are now considering selling and have received 3 unsolicited offers before even putting it on the market. Although moving on from MF is the ultimate goal the issue is where to move that money in today’s market. Have you tried looking into different geographic areas? There are still prospects in Cochise and Gila counties if your willing to venture.

  5. Hi Serge, you’re one of the smart ones eh! I haven’t considered it heavily. I prefer to be able to drive to my investments easily but I’m sure as time goes on I’ll become more comfortable buying in areas that are a ways away. Thanks for sharing and best to you

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