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Opinion: Here’s the latest data on what Realtors are witnessing in the housing market

Now is the time to go beyond the housing market headlines

The real estate market has shifted, and we are in a new housing paradigm. Mortgage interest rates have risen quickly in the past few months further eroding affordability. However, there are a number of attention-grabbing headlines, which unfortunately only compare today’s housing market to the very recent history of the last two years. It is always good to know where we are with the real estate market, but it is essential to keep all data in historical perspective. 

The monthly Realtors Confidence Index helps to dispel many of the myths and cut through the noise of what is currently happening in the market. The National Association of Realtors Research Group has produced the index since 2008, at a time of turmoil in the real estate market. It is a monthly pulse on what is happening in the market from the perspective of Realtors who are active in the field. Questions have evolved and shifted overtime, but it is a steady resource of what is happening on the ground. 

As reported in the latest NAR Existing-Home Sales, inventory still remains in tight supply, which means homes are still moving at a fast past despite the recent rise in rates and home prices. The median days on market is just 16 days — a slight increase from the record low seen in the last two months of 14 days. In comparison, in 2011, homes took 96 days to sell. 

Notably, the market has contracted as fewer buyers can afford to purchase in today’s market with the rise in interest rates and the continual rise in home prices. However, in many areas of the country it does remain a seller’s market. For every home that was listed, there were 2.5 offers. This is down from the frenzied market from April of this year when every home that was listed had 5.5 offers. Historically 2.5 offers represents a competitive housing market, edging towards a balanced market. 

One way to understand the competitiveness of the market is to look at buyers who are waiving contingencies. While this data series is shorter, it does reflect a slight ease that mirrors the number of offers for every home. There had been nearly one-third of buyers who waived an inspection or appraisal contingency, but the last month it fell to just over 20% for both. 

Another measure the housing market, is whether a Realtor had a client who had a distressed sale in the last month. Due to the consistent rise in home prices, homeowners typically do have equity in their home distressed sales are not common today. In 2008, 49% of Realtors had a client with a distressed sale, today it is only 1%. Another reason why distressed sales are likely low, is that lending standards remain tight. It is difficult to obtain a mortgage today. A housing borrower must have a higher credit score, significant savings, and higher incomes to qualify for a mortgage and compete in today’s housing market. 

Last month, we saw a shift in who is purchasing homes. There is a reduction in the share of all-cash buyers, who may be waiving the home appraisal, and a reduction in vacation and investment purchases. All cash buyers now stand at 24%. The last high among all-cash buyers was seen at 35% in 2014. 

The share of non-primary residence buyers is now at 16% from a high of 22% in January 2022. In January of 2022, there may have been buyers who were looking to purchase vacation homes as travel remained suppressed at that time. Investors may have been attracted to the market as they saw rents increase for tenants. Others may have viewed the property for both purposes: a vacation home that could be rented as a short-term vacation rental when not in personal use.

Unfortunately, the share of first-time buyers remains suppressed at just 29% last month. While it is not the high seen during the First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit in 2010, it is also not the historical norm of 40% seen in the annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report. Notably, during the timeframe of the First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit, there was significantly more inventory than seen today. 

To read more on the monthly Realtors Confidence Index, check out the full report the same day Existing-Home Sales is released.

Want to learn more about what to expect when it comes to the future of the housing market? This article offers a preview of our upcoming HousingWire Annual Housing Market Super Session that will feature an all-star panel of housing experts. Join us in Scottsdale, Arizona Oct. 3-5 to attend this super session that is designed to help attendees understand macroeconomic data and housing trends for the next year and beyond. To register for HW Annual, go here.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of HousingWire’s editorial department and its owners.

To contact the author responsible for this story:
Jessica Lautz at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Brena Nath at [email protected]

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