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Early Spring for Winter Real Estate Market?

by Brandie Malay Siavelis

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Are we seeing an early spring, in terms of prospective homebuyers? Growing statistical evidence suggests that may indeed be the case.

Is winter the new spring when it comes to real estate? Typically, homeowners don’t list their homes until warmer weather because historically, more homebuyers buy in the spring and summer. But that’s not always the case – we outlined reasons sellers should list their home during the holiday season, and now, we’ve stumbled upon research that winter buyers aren’t just a Christmas miracle; they really do exist!

Homebuyers Before Spring?

According to the Real Deal, there is growing statistical evidence that homebuyers are looking for homes well before spring. Reportedly, more people than in past winters are looking to be preapproved and more people shop online for homes this winter. There is even data showing that during holiday-distracted December, there was a jump in visits to homes listed for sale, according to several brokerages. For example:

  • Coldwell Banker’s corporate offices told Real Deal that nationwide, traffic to its listings website was up 38 percent during the past month, compared with year-earlier levels.
  • Redfin, headquartered in Seattle, found that during the week of Dec. 30, shoppers requesting home tours by agents jumped 26 percent over the four-week average, and 9 percent compared with the same week the year before.
  • Economists from the National Association of Realtors report that foot traffic at for-sale homes in well over half of all markets around the country was higher this past December than the year before.

Is the Market Becoming a Seller’s Market?

Could the anticipation of home prices and mortgage rates increasing sometime soon be the reason homebuyers are getting a jump on buying? It seems so; Fannie Mae recently took a survey of 1,002 adults in December, which found the highest share of consumers in the survey’s two-and-a-half year history who expect home prices to rise during the coming 12 months. Forty-three percent expect mortgage rates to jump and 49 percent believe the cost of renting will increase, making it more worth their while to buy.

But a few factors that would make this an ideal situation are missing: more owners listing their homes for sale. Inventories of available homes are down in most markets across the country, mainly because many sellers still believe it’s a buyer’s market filled with lowballers, or they believe waiting to sell might be better – after all, home prices are predicted to still increase through the year.

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