Why are sellers sitting on the housing market sidelines?

For-sale inventory is at record lows. According to the latest Census data, there’s just a 3.6-month supply of homes nationally — the third-lowest figure on record. Construction is starting to pick up, so that should help alleviate things in the housing market.

But existing homes? Those are another story. It begs the question: why aren’t homeowners selling? According to new research from Zillow, a number of factors are at play.

1. Life uncertainty.

According to the data, more than a third of homeowners say general life uncertainty is the reason they’re not selling. Given recent events, they’re not sure about the future of their jobs, their children’s school arrangements, or their health, so making a big change like moving? It’s not high on their agenda.

2. Financial struggles. 

Another 31% say financial anxiety is behind their decision not to sell. Though unemployment isn’t at the lows seen earlier this year, there are still rampant job losses and wage cuts. In fact, 44% of those surveyed by Zillow said they’d experienced some sort of recent work- or pay-related change in their household.

3. Worries about finding a replacement home in a hot housing market.

A whopping 63% of sellers are also buyers, which poses yet another concern. With housing market inventory so low and home prices rising, how will homeowners find a replacement property once their house is sold? It’s something over 30% of those surveyed are worried about.

4. Recent refinances.

Homeowners who have recently refinanced have little incentive to sell their property. For one, they’ve yet to break even on their refinance costs, so even with today’s high prices, they might lose out financially. Additionally, mortgage rates have risen slightly in recent weeks. Selling and taking out a new mortgage could mean getting a higher interest rate in the process.

5. Health concerns.

Finally, there are also concerns regarding recent events that are holding homeowners back. Some worry about potential buyers coming to their home for a showing, while others are more concerned about exposure during their own house hunts (or both). 

Should homeowners get off the sidelines of this housing market?

These are all valid concerns, but selling a home isn’t all doom and gloom right now. It’s actually a seller’s market in most areas, meaning homeowners can get top-dollar for their properties — not to mention sell in record-setting time. 

It could offer homeowners a unique opportunity, too. With remote work arrangements growing and morning commutes a thing of the past for many, it could just be the perfect time to sell the house and move to that dream city — be it by the beach, in the mountains, or even just back home near friends and family.

Finally, there are ways to sell (and buy) a home safely in today’s housing market. If you’re considering it, ask your agent about including a virtual tour on your listing or conducting showings via FaceTime. Depending on your state, you might even get to close on your new mortgage loan virtually too.

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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