While winter may be typically a slow season in real estate, economists predict it isn’t likely to happen this year. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®, says “it will be one of the best winter sales years ever.”
Low inventories combined with high demand due to record-low mortgage rates is sending buyers to the market in a flurry. Many home buyers are looking to upsize their homes as they work from home and their children attend school at home. Also, as remote work remains an option for many and some employers make it a permanent situation for office workers, some house hunters are looking farther away from city limits in search of bigger homes and greater affordability.
“We currently see buyers sticking around in the housing market much later than we usually do this fall,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “If that trend continues, we will see more buyers in the market this winter, too. So this winter is likely to be a good time to sell.”
Shelby McDaniels, channel director of corporate home lending for Chase, told realtor.com® that the company is expecting an extended home purchase season in 2020 that stretches well into 2021.
Inventories are way lower than in years past. The national housing inventory has shown some recent improvment, but it still has dropped 39% since last year, according to realtor.com®’s Monthly Housing Market Trends Report. High buyer demand mixed with low inventory is an advantage to sellers, says Yun. (Read more: More New Listings Are Finally Emerging.)
Hale says that even as more homes gradually hit the market, there are still few homes available for sale. “That will keep upward pressure on home prices and help ensure that homes continue to sell quickly,” Hale says.
Seventy-one percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than a month, according to NAR data. Properties typically stayed on the market for just 21 days in September—an all-time low. That is down from 32 days a year ago.
Tracy Jones, a real estate professional with RE/MAX Platinum Realty in Sarasota, Fla., told realtor.com® that buyers are facing increased competition and have been forced to make quick decisions or risk losing a home they want. “The buyers I have worked with this year only had a handful of homes to look at,” Jones told realtor.com®. “They had no time to wait and talk about it, and they had to fight other buyers if they wanted to buy them.”