A person holding a house model in front of a sunset.

A hungry Rhode Island real estate market – who’s eating on this food chain? – Emilio DiSpirito

By Emilio DiSpirito, Realtor | Co-Owner, Engel & Völkers East Greenwich and Engel & Völkers Barrington East Bay

The best part about living in a country built on capitalism is the fact that there is opportunity, always, for those who seek and work for it.

-Emilio DiSpirito

Rhode Island is back down to the lowest level of inventory for housing units it has seen. With well under 800 single family homes, 210 condos and 130 one to four unit multifamily homes and interest rates dropping nearly 2 percent since the highest numbers of October 2022, the market is red hot and demand for housing is back. Lines at open houses and bid wars are something we will see in these early winter months.

Let’s take a look at the players in this market, who wins, and how I suggest they leverage their positions best.

First time home buyers. It’s far from possible to scroll through Instagram or Facebook without seeing reels, posts and ‘lives’ discussing the new RI Housing first time buyer grant. This grant offers a massive $17,500 forgivable allowance to buyers in which they can use towards down payment assistance and closing cost credits on single family, multi-family and select condos in which they will occupy. Here’s a wonderful fact for you.  In order to qualify as a first time buyer, you simply need not own a home for the past 3 years. Check with a RI Housing approved lender to understand the fine print! Leverage this powerful grant while it’s available. There are approximately 1,700 grants available and believe me, the word is out!

Owner occupied home buyers. These buyers come in many different stages of life and in most cases offer cash, FHA or conventional on their financing. While first time buyers rush to the start line and gobble up market share while taking advantage of the new grant program, these cash, FHA and conventional buyers need to understand that they hold a preferred position. When agents and sellers review offers, they discuss timeframes, contingencies, buyer experience, expectations and overall ease of transaction. It’s no secret that RI Housing and its correspondent lenders will be backed up and closing timetables will likely be pushed out. Some sellers may not care, however, when a seller needs to close on their current home and buy congruently, or there is a death, divorce or need to relocate, timetables can be sensitive and it’s important to know that these experienced homebuyers take the trophy when it comes to winning offers. You may, in some cases, depending on a seller’s situation, win a home at a lower price with fewer contingencies and better financing or cash.

Homeowners. I’ve overheard Realtors, attorneys, lenders, buyers and even homeowners gossip about how the buyers are receiving all the benefits and there is nothing for the homeowners. I could not agree less with them. Releasing a program such as the current first time buyer program will allow demand to spike, during a time where inventory is at its lowest. Most homeowners are sitting on mountains of equity, and can buy their next home cash, or with a conventional mortgage, and are the true winners of this market. Prices in Rhode Island, in my opinion, will skyrocket into the spring market, leaving sellers with the highest return of any market we have previously experienced in Rhode Island.

Taking a deeper dive into this demographic, homeowners who have properties valued under $546,752, own properties under lending limits, that may qualify for RI Housing first time buyer grant program. These sellers, in many cases, may be upgrading and buying a larger home, where they may slap a hefty down payment on a home, in the neighborhood they always wanted, and will be paying around what they currently are. Some sellers may take the money and relocate to Florida or other tax saving states with lower costs of living. This program will help push the sellers who were holding on to their “low fixed mortgage rates”, back into the purchase market, therefore causing a chain effect.

Landlords. Tied with owner occupied homeowners, for first place is landlords. This demographic will win big when they place their 1 to 4 families, single family homes and or condos on the market for sale. The massive amount of demand for their properties, only increases their equity position. This group will capitalize very well on selling their current units and leveraging a 1031 Exchange to acquire larger rental properties with deferred tax hits for immediate cash flow benefit. By “larger”, I am referring to 5+ commercial units. With a large chunk of change to put down, lower fixed mortgage rates and less competition in the commercial space, these property owners are at the top of the food chain for opportunity!

Cash Investors. Savvy investors who understand the ins and outs of sourcing opportunities and getting homes market ready, able to qualify for first time home buyers and certain owner occupied home loans, will also be winners in this market. With increased demand, comes less supply and lower buyer expectations. Cash investors are a close second to homeowners in this market as a winner, simply because they do not hold nearly as much equity in most cases as homeowners who have kept a well maintained property over the years. The benefit they have over developers is faster turnaround times on their projects.

Developers. Landowners will see an increase in demand for their lots as developers scatter the state to look for opportunities to fill the market demand. The average first time home buyer age is now around 35, and this market segment is only growing in numbers when you look at the “coming of age”. Developers focused on filling the needs of buyers will be in a winning place and developers near completion with new construction should not hesitate to put their properties on the market, now. The risk that comes with this market segment is the time it takes to get approvals, supplies and labor arranged. The market today will likely not be the market tomorrow and this risk, along with questions in the economy, put this group in last place, on our list.

The real estate market is currently alive and well, here in Rhode Island.


To read more articles in RINewsToday by Emilio, go to:

Phone: 401-359-2338

Email: [email protected]

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Emilio DiSpirito

If you would have asked me what I wanted to be growing up, little Emilio would have told you “an archeologist” or “an architect” despite the fact that at age 8 I had my first lemonade stand, landscaping business and was recording my first “news show” on my boombox!  Well, I never was much good at trigonometry and did could not see myself traveling for months and possibly years at a time, so becoming an architect or archaeologist clearly did not happen!

Fast forward 26 years later and I’m running a team of the finest residential real estate professionals, own a media company and host my very own radio news show about real estate!

For 7 years straight it seemed that I had put in more hours than the day had to give on my real estate business. 7 days a week, 14 to 16 hour days, without a break! Why? My friends and family did not understand the sheer magnitude of moving parts and services we offer to our clients during a transaction! One slip up or one missed call could mean make or break for someone’s dream home or even a lost deposit!

Running a team of like-minded, highly qualified and capable professionals has allowed me to offer a very streamlined, simplified and efficient approach to the sales process for our clients and allowed me to earn personal time again with my family while not missing a beat for my clients!

When I’m not working, I’m with family and friends, riding my mountain bike, eating at local restaurants, enjoying live entertainment, hiking, skiing or reading!