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Unexpected Homebuyer Headache: Hard-to-Get Appliances

If stressed buyers somehow manage to land the home of their dreams, they may find it will take an additional nine months to secure the refrigerator of their dreams.

NEW YORK – House hunters may overcome home inventory challenges to finally secure a property, but their struggle with shortages might go on when they start to outfit their new place. New homebuyers often scramble to find appliances and furniture as manufacturing shortages loom. What’s more, the shortages aren’t expected to ease anytime soon – and in some cases, they’re delaying transactions from closing.

In March 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic began shutting down most aspects of the economy, including the appliance sector.

“The pandemic has impacted production in the U.S. manufacturing plants as factories have to operate with less workers on site or on staggered shifts as part of social distancing precautions,” says Gay Cororaton, director of housing and commercial research at the National Association of Realtors®.

And while supply has been cut back, demand has gone up. The housing market is booming and new buyers find themselves competing with current homeowners spending more money on remodeling projects. That increase in demand has also prolonged shortages.

In February, nearly 90% of home builders reported trouble obtaining appliances over the last six months, according to a survey from the National Association of Home Builders, and more real estate pros are reporting delayed closings due to missing appliances.

Emily Becker, a real estate pro with Warburg Realty in New York, told Bankrate.com that one of her closings had been delayed because appliances scheduled for a March delivery still hadn’t arrived by the beginning of May.

And it’s not just appliances. Many homeowners also have difficulties finding furniture in stock due to high demand and supply chain disruptions. Furniture manufacturers report delays of four months or longer.

However, some buyers use the shortages to improve their offer for a home. They’re being flexible, not only to make their offer stand out in a bidding war, but also to accommodate these shortages,. Some buyers, for example, waive the contract contingency for appliances or negotiate a lower price if appliances aren’t in working condition rather than demanding new units.

To avoid shortage-related delays, buyers should look for the most popular models or for units already in stock, even if they’re not a No. 1 choice. Special orders can come with wait times as long as nine months.

Source: “The Other Housing Shortage: Appliances and Furniture,” Bankrate.com (May 7, 2021)

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