Housing MarketReal Estate

No housing market slowdown as real estate agents report a busy fall

Homebuyers not following the school calendar this year in many markets

Realtors can usually count on their biggest season being spring, followed by summer. But nothing about 2020 has been normal, including home-buying patterns. With shut-down orders in the spring, summer became the new home-buying season, and homebuyers were still incredibly active in August.

Now, believe it or not, fall home-buying season is in full swing.

Traditionally, home-buying season slows down during the fall because families have settled in their new homes just in time for school to start. Now that school is mostly virtual, that calculation may be changing a bit.

“There’s a lot of homeschooling going on in this hybrid world, and it’s difficult,” Realtor Vesna Kanacki with Century 21 Full Service Realty in New City, New York, told HousingWire. Kanacki said that when it came to seasonal buying, “we’re still riding the wave with 2020.”

Kanacki’s market, like many others, remains competitive as buyers continue to experience bidding wars amid historically low housing inventory and an uptick in home prices.

“I think there is a lot of fear with the election coming up, that’s going to play a big factor of our spring market as well [and] depending on how everybody is comfortable with leadership going forward,” Kanacki said.

“But if the pandemic surges up again, I think we’re just going to get busier and busier here, because we are definitely located in the correct position, outside of New York City, where parents can still commute to work and children can have space needed for homeschooling and things like that,” Kanacki said.

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Over the last four weeks ending on Sept. 20, the National Association of Realtors said that contract signings were up 23% year over year. There were nine new pending contracts for every 10 new listings, a slower rate than the 9.9 ratio in the past four weeks through July 5, but still impressive for a fall time period.

“The strong interest in home-buying observed this summer has carried over to the fall,” Joel Kan, MBA’s economist said to CNBC.

Jackie Merchant, Realtor at Coldwell Banker Realty in Sacramento-Sierra Oaks, said she doesn’t think her market will be slowing down anytime soon.

“The market here in Sacramento is crazy, the residential market is super, super hot, and [there’s lots of] multiple offers and properties going way over asking,” Merchant said. “I think it’s being driven by interest rates being low and then there’s also people are on the move, related to COVID.”

Merchant said that more people are pouring into Sacramento from the Bay Area and Southern California, and that “everybody seems to be on the move.”

“…maybe they want to get a bigger house so they have a home office, or they want a bigger yard because they have people working from home and kids doing school from home,” Merchant said.

Usually, Merchant said the Sacramento housing market slows down after Labor Day, but doesn’t see that slowdown this year. Merchant said that she thinks the housing market will remain strong as she is cautiously optimistic about the rest of the year.

“I think people used to say that [they] wanted to get settled before school started back in the day,” Merchant said. “I don’t think that’s such a driver anymore.”

Joshua Stern, a Realtor with Keller Williams Salt Lake City’s The Stern Team, said that for 2020 his market is on track to have the highest sales record in Utah year over year.

“I think the next few months you’re gonna see a plateau and the reason why I think you’re gonna see it is just because of the lack of inventory,” Stern said.

Stern said that his team remains busy not only due to pent-up demand but also because of Utah’s low unemployment rate and low mortgage rates driving migration to Salt Lake City.

Susan Hamblen, broker and owner of Long Island-based EXIT Realty Achieve, also said that buyers aren’t concerned about moving while school is in session, either. 

“Our market hasn’t let off because school has started,” Hamblen said. “We’re continuing to have really high demand and a lot of activity in the marketplace regardless of the fact that school has started.”

Hamblen said that there’s about a month-and-a-half worth of inventory in the Long Island market and she is expecting a strong end to 2020. 

While the holidays in November and December are generally when Hamblen said she sees the market slowing down, she said she’s not so sure that will happen this year. 

“I think we’re going to continue with strong buyer demand,” Hamblen said. “There’s a little bit of a frenzy for people to get a house right now.”

Lisa Rees, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Reilly and Sons based in Leavenworth, Kansas, said that she had a little bit of a slow down right as school started, but now she said she’s swamped.

“I think people are wanting to get back to normal again and getting back into continuing their home search or getting their current house ready to sell,” Rees said. “Believe it or not, the housing market has not been hit near as hard as you would think with all that has happened this year.

“I think it is super crazy right now due to low inventory and lots of buyers, so if it does slow it won’t be by much and/or just plateau for quite a while,” Rees said.

Down in Southlake, Texas, Denise McClelland Johnson, broker and owner of Torelli Properties with Keller Williams DFW, said she had a healthy summer buyer-wise, and her team thinks they will continue to see strong buyer activity continue for the next few months.

Pending the upcoming presidential election, Johnson said they expect a strong market all the way until the spring.

“I don’t think we’re looking at a slowdown for 2021, I think that’s predicted to be strong, and then maybe even after that,” Johnson said. “I do think if interest rates are where they are, buyers are able to buy larger homes, more affordably and because more people are home, because of school and or work, they are looking for more space.”

In Palm Beach County, Florida, Terry Story, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty Services in East Boca Raton, Florida, said that they thought they would run out of buyers because of the pent-up demand from COVID-19 in March, April and May.

Story said that properties are coming off faster than they’re coming on.

“[We thought] ‘they’re all rushing in to buy right now, When is it going to stop?’ Well, they’re still coming,” Story said.

“The difference that we’re seeing this year that we haven’t ever seen in the past, is what we thought was just strictly pent-up demand is turning to be something greater than that,” Story said. “And where are these extra buyers coming from? Well, we get calls all the time, from different parts of the country more so than I have ever seen wanting to move down here.”

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