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Creativity allows house hunter to land his prize in Henderson

Aaron Kessler finally has his castle.

It took persistence, innovation and a little luck, but Kessler, the beleaguered home buyer the Review-Journal profiled in an August story about the tight housing market, closed on a home Thursday. A website he had launched as part of his home search brought him a seller.

“Being creative is what did it for me,” Kessler said Friday. “If I hadn’t put up the website, I would still be looking.”

When the Review-Journal last checked on Kessler, he was competing with hordes of investors. More than half of local buyers these days are investors paying cash. With home inventory at about a quarter of what it should be, shoppers buying with mortgages are mostly left out of the feeding frenzy.

Realtor Christopher Rubeis of Realty Executives said Tuesday that the market for mortgage-backed buyers is even worse today that it was six weeks ago, when he estimated that more than 90 percent of his sales on homes priced below $125,000 were going to cash buyers. Inventory has continued to shrink, and it’s tougher than ever to buy with a loan.

But a little creativity goes a long way.

After a fruitless, five-month search for a home, Kessler launched the website

The Review-Journal wrote about the site. The story caught the eye of a homeowner who knew what Kessler was going through.

“When I was buying my place last year, I had a hard time, too,” said Max, who asked that his last name not be used. “I got outbid a bunch of different times on five or six properties, and there’s more cash flowing into Las Vegas now than there was when I bought.

“I read about Aaron. I thought, ‘OK, I’ll give it a shot.’ “

Max moved to another city earlier this year and thought about renting out his place in Henderson. But trying to find a renter as his house sat empty was stressful, and overhead was piling up faster than he had expected. Plus, investors “tend to haggle and offer low-ball pricing,” he said.

So Max asked Kessler how much he was willing to pay. They settled on a price in the middle of Kessler’s range. The house wasn’t on the market, so Kessler didn’t have to compete with other buyers. It helped that Kessler had mortgage funding ready to go so that closing wouldn’t take two or three months.

There are lessons in Kessler’s story. First, be ready. A pre-approved loan, where you’ve filled out the paperwork and have a fixed mortgage amount in hand, can help. It’s what gave Max the confidence to give Kessler a chance.

“They were able to close in three weeks,” Max said. “He told me he could close in a month or a month and a half, so the house wouldn’t sit empty for two months while we waited for the loan.”

Also, don’t just target homes on the market. If there’s a neighborhood you like, ask your real estate agent to send out direct-mail pieces or visit homeowners in person with an offer. You might be surprised at the number of people who aren’t actively selling, but who would sell if they could find a sure buyer with a good offer in hand. And be creative in other ways: Sweeten the deal with a free cruise, or offer a seller season tickets to his favorite sports team, Rubeis said.

Finally, don’t give up. Kessler has friends who have successfully bought in recent weeks through sheer persistence.

“Keep making offers,” Kessler said.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@review
journal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @J_Robison1 on Twitter.

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