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.
“The real estate cycle has shifted into its slower fall phase, and we see it evident in the median days on the market,” Smoke says.
Active listings remained on realtor.com® a median of 65 days in May and June. In August, however, that is expected to reach 72.
“Demand follows a more extreme seasonal pattern,” Smoke notes. “The busiest month on average is June, and June has almost 75 percent more sales than December, the slowest month of the year.”
Weather can be a big culprit behind that trend. In some colder areas, winter can make it more difficult to buy a home, but the school calendar also plays a big role for many families. Many families don’t want to move when the school year is still in session.
In any case, “from now until January, buyers will have more inventory available relative to each sale with each passing month,” Smoke writes.
The very best month that tends to work the most in buyers’ favor: January, says Smoke. On the other hand, the cycle will likely shift again to favor sellers starting in February, he adds.
“When the cycle favors buyers, prices weaken and inventory sits longer,” Smoke notes. “So even in a tough ‘seller’s market’ like this one, the cycle can be your friend if you are willing to buy when others aren’t as interested.”