By now just about every would-be buyer out there knows there simply aren’t enough homes for sale these days to appease the hordes of competition. But despite the shortages, rising prices, and bidding wars, more homes are expected to be sold this year than in more than a decade.
In 2017, the number of sales of existing homes (which have previously been lived in) is expected to rise about 3.5%, to 5.64 million, according to the midyear forecast from the National Association of Realtors®. The group predicts that existing-home purchases will rise an additional 2.8% in 2018, to 5.8 million.
Read more on Realtor.com…
Consumers are increasingly on the house hunt this spring. Though they’re enjoying solid employment and paycheck gains and in a rush to beat rising mortgage rates, they’re also struggling to find a home to buy in many housing markets.
Indeed, the supply of homes for-sale is at a nearly 20-year low. The most affordable homes—those that tend to attract first-time buyers—are in short supply too. Meanwhile, home prices are rising sharply as buyers find themselves competing for the few homes that are for sale.
Reports are growing of bidding wars erupting across hot markets. About 1.75 million homes were for-sale nationally at the end of February, down 6.4 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. The supply of homes has dropped on an annual basis for the last 21 months.
Why is the supply so low? Housing experts point to several reasons. The average time that owners are staying in their homes before selling has doubled to nearly eight years, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. Investors own a larger portion of houses and they’ve been renting them out. Between 2006 and 2016, the share of single-family houses and condos owned by investors averaged around 30 percent. Also, builders–faced with rising land costs and a shortage or skilled workers–have done little to ramp up new-home supplies.
The shortages are prompting home prices to skyrocket. The median sales price jumped 7.7 percent from a year ago to $228,400—more than double the pace of average pay gains.
Likely to be a hallmark of this year’s spring homeselling season: Bidding wars. As home listings are scarcer and buyer demand remains high, home shoppers are finding a lot more competition this spring, particularly in hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver, and Boston.
An improving job market, growing consumer confidence, and the threat of rising mortgage rates have Americans flocking to housing. But many markets remain tight for listings. Housing starts remain well below levels prior to the recession and are geared more toward the higher end of the market. Homeowners also are reluctant to sell their existing home because they’re unsure of where they’d move to with the dearth of listings.
Homes are selling at a rapid clip in places like Denver; Seattle; Oakland, Calif.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Boise, Idaho; Madison, Wis.; and Omaha, Neb., according to the real estate brokerage Redfin.
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Many markets are seeing so few new listings that they may not be able to meet the strong buyer demand heading into real estate’s traditionally busiest season. Listings are down more than 7 percent compared to a year ago across the country, according to the latest data by the National Association of REALTORS®.
“Competition is likely to heat up even more heading into the spring for house hunters looking for homes in the lower- and mid-market price range,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.
Realtor.com® notes that the following markets are particularly very light on listings:
- Chicago: -13% (active listings compared to a year ago)
- Philadelphia: -14%
- Washington: -15%
- Seattle: -17%
- Minneapolis: -18%
- St. Louis: -12%
- Baltimore: -16%
- Cleveland: -18%
- Orlando, Fla.: -19%
On the other hand, home shoppers may find more choices this year in a few select markets. Notably, Las Vegas is seeing an 18 percent increase in active listings compared to a year ago; Pittsburgh is seeing a 9 percent increase; and Houston and San Antonio are posting a 6 percent increase.
It’s a parched, scorching desert out there for many U.S. home buyers. For the past 28 months, the housing market has been defined not just by demand—which remains sky-high in many parts of the nation—but also by the shrinking number of available homes for sale. So what are the signposts of a tighter-than-tight marketplace? Buyers are jumping on realtor.com® listings within seconds of their initial postings. Wanna-be homeowners are burrowing themselves into ever-scarcer, ever-busier open houses and going a little mad trying to get in the first bid. Real estate agents are knocking on hundreds of doors just to squeeze out one more listing.
And who are the biggest losers in such a skintight, depleted market? First-time buyers with limited budgets, of course.
Read the article on realtor.com® and see where Seattle ranks…
Buyers had to be prepared to bring their housing A-game this year. Amid tight inventories of homes for sale and a tight lending environment, they’ve needed to get pre-approved for a mortgage, be laser-focused on what it is they want in in order to make quick decisions, and even forgo some contingencies to get the home they wanted.
Though active listings likely will fall more (8 percent over last year), the market still may be shifting slightly as the start of the school year arrives and give buyers more bargaining power, writes Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist in his latest column.
Read the article on REALTORmag…
In a seller’s market, home buyers need to be willing and able to act fast to snag the home they want. This spring, areas across the country are facing a limited number of homes for sale. Realtor.com® offers up a cheat sheet for surviving a seller’s market.