Spring is usually the busiest season in the housing market. Many buyers wait until then to make their move, believing it’s the best time to find a home. However, that isn’t always the case when you factor in the competition you could face with other buyers at that time of year. If you’re ready to buy a home, here’s why it makes sense to move before the spring market picks up.
Spring Should Bring a Wave of Buyers to the Market
In most years, the housing market goes through predictable seasonal trends in activity. Winter is typically a quiet point in the year, while spring sees a surge of buyers begin their search. And experts project that this year will be no exception.
Right now, buyer demand is low due to a combination of normal seasonal trends and a reaction to last year’s rise in mortgage rates. But rates have started to come down since last November, which has more and more potential buyers planning to jump into the market. That means right now is a sweet spot if you’re in a good position to buy, before more buyers reappear. Affordability is beginning to improve, but demand is still low — for now. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), shares:
“. . . expect sales to pick up again soon since mortgage rates have markedly declined after peaking late last year.”
If you’re ready to buy a home, right now is the best time to do so before your competition grows and more buyers enter the market.
Today’s Sellers Are Motivated
Low demand from buyers often means sellers are more motivated to work with you, and that can set you up to buy a home on your terms. In fact, sellers have been more willing to negotiate this winter because there are fewer buyers in the market. According to a recent article from Forbes:
“. . . sellers gave concessions to buyers in 41.9% of home sales in the fourth quarter of last year.”
But keep in mind, the advantages buyers have this winter won’t last forever. The competition you face could be greater if you wait until spring to make a move, and increased buyer demand means sellers will have less motivation to negotiate with you. Be sure to work with a trusted real estate professional to learn what you can expect in your local market right now.
It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who closely follows the economy or not, chances are you’ve heard whispers of an upcoming recession. Economic conditions are determined by a broad range of factors, so rather than explaining them each in depth, let’s lean on the experts and what history tells us to see what could lie ahead. As Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, says:
“Two-in-three economists are forecasting a recession in 2023 . . .”
As talk about a potential recession grows, you may be wondering what a recession could mean for the housing market. Here’s a look at the historical data to show what happened in real estate during previous recessions to help prove why you shouldn’t be afraid of what a recession could mean for the housing market today.
A Recession Doesn’t Mean Falling Home Prices
To show that home prices don’t fall every time there’s a recession, it helps to turn to historical data. As the graph below illustrates, looking at recessions going all the way back to 1980, home prices appreciated in four of the last six of them. So historically, when the economy slows down, it doesn’t mean home values will always fall.
Most people remember the housing crisis in 2008 (the larger of the two red bars in the graph above) and think another recession would be a repeat of what happened to housing then. But today’s housing market isn’t about to crash because the fundamentals of the market are different than they were in 2008. According to experts, home prices will vary by market and may go up or down depending on the local area. But the average of their 2023 forecasts shows prices will net neutral nationwide, not fall drastically like they did in 2008.
A Recession Means Falling Mortgage Rates
Research also helps paint the picture of how a recession could impact the cost of financing a home. As the graph below shows, historically, each time the economy slowed down, mortgage rates decreased.
Fortuneexplains mortgage rates typically fall during an economic slowdown:
“Over the past five recessions, mortgage rates have fallen an average of 1.8 percentage points from the peak seen during the recession to the trough. And in many cases, they continued to fall after the fact as it takes some time to turn things around even when the recession is technically over.”
In 2023, market experts say mortgage rates will likely stabilize below the peak we saw last year. That’s because mortgage rates tend to respond to inflation. And early signs show inflation is starting to cool. If inflation continues to ease, rates may fall a bit more, but the days of 3% are likely behind us.
The big takeaway is you don’t need to fear the word recession when it comes to housing. In fact, experts say a recession would be mild and housing would play a key role in a quick economic rebound. As the 2022 CEO Outlook from KPMG, says:
“Global CEOs see a ‘mild and short’ recession, yet optimistic about global economy over 3-year horizon . . .
More than 8 out of 10 anticipate a recession over the next 12 months, with more than half expecting it to be mild and short.”
While higher mortgage rates are creating affordability challenges for homebuyers this year, there is some good news for those people still looking to buy a home.
As the market has cooled this year, some of the intensity buyers faced during the peak frenzy of the pandemic has cooled too. Here are just a few trends that may benefit you when you go to buy a home today.
1. More Homes To Choose from
During the pandemic, housing supply hit a record low at the same time buyer demand skyrocketed. This combination made it difficult to find a home because there just weren’t enough to meet buyer demand. According to Calculated Risk, the supply of homes for sale increased by 39.5% for the week ending October 28 compared to the same week last year.
Even though it’s still a sellers’ market and supply is still lower than more normal levels, you have more to choose from in your home search. That makes finding your dream home a bit less difficult.
2. Bidding Wars Have Eased
One of the top stories in real estate over the past two years was the intensity and frequency of bidding wars. But today, things are different. With more options, you’ll likely see less competition from other buyers looking for homes. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average number of offers on recently sold homes has declined. This September, the average was 2.5 offers per sale. In contrast, last September, the average was 3.7 offers per sale.
If you tried to buy a house over the past two years, you probably experienced the bidding war frenzy firsthand and may have been outbid on several homes along the way. Now you have a chance to jump back into the market and enjoy searching for a home with less competition.
3. More Negotiation Power
And when you have less competition, you also have more negotiating power as a buyer. Over the last two years, more buyers were willing to skip important steps in the homebuying process, like the appraisal or inspection, to try to win a bidding war. But the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the percentage of buyers waiving those contingencies is going down.
As a buyer, this is good news. The appraisal and the inspection give you important information about the value and condition of the home you’re buying. And if something turns up in the inspection, you have more power today to renegotiate with the seller.
A survey from realtor.com confirms more sellers are accepting offers that include contingencies today. According to that report, 95% of sellers said buyers requested a home inspection, and 67% negotiated with buyers on repairs as a result of the inspection findings.
While buyers still face challenges today, they’re not necessarily the same ones you may have been up against just a year or so ago. If you were outbid or had trouble finding a home in the past, now may be the moment you’ve been waiting for.
If you’re thinking about selling your house but wondering if buyers are still out there, know that there are still people who are searching for a home to buy today. And your house may be exactly what they’re looking for.
While the millennial generation has been dubbed the renter generation, that namesake may not be appropriate anymore. Millennials, the largest generation, are actually a significant driving force for buyer demand in the housing market today. Here’s why.
Millennial Homebuying Power
While there’s no denying higher mortgage rates are making it more challenging to afford a home today, many millennials are still eager and able to buy homes – whether it’s their first or they’re moving up. That’s in large part because of the value they place on education.
A recent article from First American says millennials may be the most educated generation in our nation’s history. Because of that, they tend to earn higher wages, and that translates to greater homebuying power. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American,explains:
“In 2020, millennials with a bachelor’s degree had a median household income of over $100,000, while those with at least a graduate degree had a median household income of over $120,000. Compare those income levels with the median household income of millennials with just a high school degree (or some college) of $60,000 and the earning power benefits of higher education are undeniable. . . . Millennials’ pursuit of higher education is good news for the housing market. . . because education is the key to unlock both greater earning power and, in turn, homeownership.”
And since wages are one of the key things that factor into affordability when it comes to buying a home, these higher earnings can help millennials achieve their homeownership goals.
Millennials Continue To Be a Driving Force of Demand
A number of studies have looked into how the millennial generation views homeownership and how they’re uniquely positioned to define the housing market moving forward. As the largest generation, the volume of potential millennial homebuyers will have an impact on the market for years to come. As an article in Forbesexplains:
“At about 80 million strong, millennials currently make up the largest share of homebuyers (43%) in the U.S., according to a recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) report. Simply due to their numbers and eagerness to become homeowners, this cohort is quite literally shaping the next frontier of the homebuying process. Once known as the ‘rent generation,’ millennials have proven to be savvy buyers who are quite nimble in their quest to own real estate. In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they are the key to the overall health and stability of the current housing industry.”
If you’re thinking of selling your house but are hesitant because you’re worried that buyer demand has disappeared in the face of higher mortgage rates, know that isn’t the case for everyone. While demand has eased this year, millennials are still looking for homes. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says in an article:
“While not the frenzy of 2021, the largest living generation, the Millennials, will continue to age into their prime home-buying years, creating a demographic tailwind for the housing market.”
Over the past two years, the substantial imbalance of low housing supply and high buyer demand pushed home sales and buyer competition to new heights. But this year, things are shifting as supply and demand reach an inflection point.
The graph below helps tell the story of just how different things are today.
This year, buyer demand has eased as higher mortgage rates and mounting economic uncertainty moderated the market. This slowdown in demand is clear when you look at the red bar on the graph. It uses the latest data from ShowingTime to illustrate how showings (an indicator of buyer demand) have softened by just over 12% compared to the same time last year.
Now for a look at how housing supply has changed, turn to the green bar. It uses data from realtor.com to show active listings are up nearly 27% compared to last year. That’s because the moderation of demand allowed housing inventory to increase in 2022.
What Does This Inflection Point Mean for Buyers?
If you’re thinking of buying a home, you’ll have less competition and more options than you would have had last year. Enjoy having more homes to choose from in your home search and lean on a trusted real estate professional to understand how the increase in supply has also increased your negotiation power. That professional can talk you through the opportunities and challenges buyers face in today’s shifting market. You may be surprised to find they’re different than they were a year ago.
What Does This Inflection Point Mean for Sellers?
If you’re looking to sell your house, know that inventory is still low overall. That means, if you work with an agent to price your house based on current market value, it will still sell despite the inventory gains and moderating buyer demand this year. That’s because there are still buyers out there who want to move, and your house may be exactly what they’re looking for.