ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — There is a record shortage of houses for sale in the Rochester area, and homes that do make it on the market are not staying there very long, leaving potential buyers in competitive bidding wars.

This year, COVID-19 has made things even more challenging, as more owners decided to keep their home and renovate rather than selling. 

“If you don’t have the deposit to put down or you are not really a qualified buyer, it will definitely be a challenge to get a house right now,” said Jim Barbato, president of Pride Mark Homes.

According to the February housing report from the New York state association of realtors, sales are up, but inventory is near record lows. 

Closed sales in February climbed 24% compared to 2020. Inventory however continues to fall, 31.5% less homes are available now than February of last year. Median sales prices were $360,000, a 22% increase from February 2020.

“This is unusual. It’s really ramped up. We’re also seeing a shift from covid for the demand for more space,” said Barbato.

COVID-19 could be causing more current homeowners are keeping their current home and renovate rather than move due to the uncertainty of COVID-19.

For houses that do make it on the market-potential buyers will find themselves in competitive bidding wars-with bids coming in thousands over asking price, buyers paying cash up front, or even forgoing inspections all to win the home. 

“People are not getting inspections and they’re going in without contingencies and just buying houses just in order to win the bid, going over asking price with no contingencies,” said Barbato.

This leaves first time potential homeowners and those who need a mortgage at a disadvantage-but doing research and being first to the market might just help.

“You have to go in as a ready able buyer and go in over asking price for the appropriate properties,” said Barbato.

The rental market is also seeing a similar boom.