Homebuyers are flooding the housing market right now to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates. Many have a sense of urgency to find a home soon since experts forecast a steady rise in both rates and home prices this year and next. As a result, buyer demand greatly outweighs the current housing supply. Here’s how the shortage of houses for sale sets yours up to be the oasis in an inventory desert.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), today’s housing inventory sits at an incredibly low 2.1-month supply, far below the 6-month mark for a neutral market. Inventory of single-family homes a year ago was already very low, and as you can see in the graph below, this year’s levels are even lower:
Due to these market conditions, today’s buyers frequently enter fierce bidding wars while trying to purchase a home. This in turn drives up home prices and gives sellers incredible leverage in the negotiation process, two big wins if you’re going to sell your house this year.
In such a hot market, it can feel as though the supply of homes has virtually dried up, leaving buyers to wander in an inventory desert. That’s why there’s never been a better time to sell. To a parched buyer needing to secure a home as soon as possible, your house could be a true oasis.
There’s no doubt that 2021 is the year of the seller when it comes to the housing market. If you’re a homeowner thinking of moving to better suit your changing needs, now is the perfect time to do so. Low mortgage rates are in your favor when you’re ready to purchase your dream home, and high buyer demand may give you the leverage you need to negotiate the best contract terms on the sale of your house. Here’s a look at what’s driving this sellers’ advantage and why there’s so much opportunity for homeowners who are ready to move this season.
1. Historically Low Inventory
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:
“Total housing inventory at the end of March amounted to 1.07 million units, up 3.9% from February’s inventory . . . Unsold inventory sits at a 2.1-month supply at the current sales pace, marginally up from February’s 2.0-month supply and down from the 3.3-month supply recorded in March 2020.”
Even with a slight rise in the number of houses for sale this spring, inventory remains near an all-time low (see graph below):
High buyer interest is creating a major imbalance between supply and demand, but as the small uptick in inventory shows, sellers are beginning to reenter the market. Selling your house now enables you to take advantage of buyer demand and get the most attention for your house – before more listings come to the market later this year.
2. Frequent Bidding Wars
As a result of the supply and demand imbalance, homebuyers are entering bidding wars at an accelerating rate. NAR reports the average number of bids received on the most recently closed sales is 4.8 offers. This number has doubled since the first quarter of 2020 (see graph below):
As buyers face increasingly tough competition while searching for homes to purchase, they’re more likely to be flexible and generous in their negotiations. This gives a seller the opportunity to choose the best buyer for their needs and be selective about things like time to close, contingencies, renovations, and more. Working with your trusted agent is the best way to determine how to navigate the negotiation process when selling your house.
3. Days on the Market
In today’s market, sellers aren’t waiting very long to find a buyer for their house, either. NAR reports:
“Properties typically remained on the market for 18 days in March, down from 20 days in February and from 29 days in March 2020. 83% of the homes sold in March 2021 were on the market for less than a month.” (See graph below):
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun explains:
“The sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory…Days-on-market are swift, multiple offers are prevalent, and buyer confidence is rising.”
If you’re thinking about moving, these three graphs clearly show that it’s a great time to sell your house. Let’s connect today so you can learn more about the opportunities in our local area.
At the beginning of the year, industry forecasts called for home price appreciation to slow to about half of the double-digit increase we saw last year. The thinking was that inventory would increase from record-low levels and put an end to the bidding wars that have driven home prices up over the past twelve months. However, that increase in inventory has yet to materialize. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that there are currently 410,000 fewer single-family homes available for sale than there were at this time last year. This has forced those who made appreciation forecasts this past January to amend those projections. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the National Association of Realtors, and Zelman & Associates have all adjusted their numbers upward after reviewing first quarter housing data. Here are their original forecasts and their newly updated projections:
Even with the increases, the updated projections still don’t reach the above 10% appreciation levels of 2020. However, a jump in the average projection from 5.3% to 7.7% after just one quarter is substantial. Demand will remain strong, so future appreciation will be determined by how quickly listing inventory makes its way to the market. Bottom Line Entering 2021, there was some speculation that we might see price appreciation slow dramatically this year. Today, experts believe that won’t be the case. Home values will remain strong throughout the year.
Last week’s Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows sales have dropped by 3.7% compared to the month before. This is the second consecutive month that sales have slumped. Some see this as evidence that the red-hot real estate market may be cooling. However, there could also be a simple explanation as to why existing home sales have slowed – there aren’t enough homes to buy. There are currently 410,000 fewer single-family homes available for sale than there were at this time last year.
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, explains in the report:
“The sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory. Days-on-market are swift, multiple offers are prevalent, and buyer confidence is rising.”
Yun’s insight was supported the next day when the Census Bureau released its Monthly New Residential Sales Report. It shows that newly constructed home sales are up 20.7% over the previous month.
Buyer demand remains strong. With more of the adult population becoming vaccinated and job creation data showing encouraging signs, existing-home inventory is expected to grow in the coming months.
What will this mean for home sales going forward?
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) have all forecasted that total home sales (existing homes and new construction) will continue their momentum both this year and next. Here’s a graph showing those projections:
Living through a pandemic has caused many to re-evaluate the importance of a home and the value of homeownership. The residential real estate market will benefit from both as we move forward.
The question many homebuyers are facing this year is, “Why is it so hard to find a house?” We’re in the ultimate sellers’ market, which means real estate is ultra-competitive for buyers right now. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes homes are getting an average of 4.8 offers per sale, and that number keeps rising. Why? It’s because there are so few houses for sale.
Low inventory in the housing market isn’t new, but it’s becoming more challenging to navigate. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:
“The housing market is still relatively under supplied, and buyers can’t buy what’s not for sale. Relative to what we saw in 2017 to 2019, March 2021 was still roughly 117,000 new listings lower, adding to the pre-existing early-year gap of more than 200,000 fresh listings that would typically have come to market in January or February. Despite this week’s gain from a year ago, we’re 19 percent below the new seller activity that we saw in the same week in 2019.”
While many homeowners paused their plans to sell during the height of the pandemic, this isn’t the main cause of today’s huge gap between supply and demand. Sam Khater, Vice President and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, Economic Housing and Research Division, shares:
“The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes . . . That decline has resulted in the decrease in supply of entry-level single-family homes or, ’starter homes.’”
When you consider the number of homes built in the U.S. by decade, the serious lack of new construction is clear (See graph below):
The number of newly built homes is disproportionately lower than the rate of household formation, which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has continued to increase. Khater also explains:
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and current recession, the housing market was facing a substantial supply shortage and that deficit has grown. In 2018, we estimated that there was a housing supply shortage of approximately 2.5 million units, meaning that the U.S. economy was about 2.5 million units below what was needed to match long-term demand. Using the same methodology, we estimate that the housing shortage increased to 3.8 million units by the end of 2020. A continued increase in a housing shortage is extremely unusual; typically in a recession, housing demand declines and supply rises, causing inventory to rise above the long-term trend.”
To catch up to current demand, Freddie Mac estimates we need to build almost four million homes. The good news is builders are working hard to get us there. The U.S. Census Bureau also states:
“Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,766,000. This is 2.7 percent (±1.7 percent) above the revised February rate of 1,720,000 . . . Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,739,000. This is 19.4 percent (±13.7 percent) above the revised February estimate of 1,457,000. . . .”
What does this mean? Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, clarifies:
“The March figure of 1.74 million housing starts is the highest in 14 years. Both single-family units and multifamily units ramped up. After 13 straight years of underproduction – the chief cause for today’s inventory shortage – this construction boom needs to last for at least three years to make up for the part shortfall. As trade-up buyers purchase newly constructed homes, their prior homes will show up in MLSs, and hence, more choices for consumers. Housing starts to housing completion could be 4 to 8 months, so be patient with the improvement to inventory. In the meantime, construction workers deserve cheers.”
If you’re planning to buy this year, the key to success will be patience, given today’s low inventory environment. Let’s connect today to talk more about what’s happening in our area.
NOTE: THE ORIGINAL VERSION OF THIS BLOG INCLUDED A GRAPH SHOWING TOTAL NUMBER OF HOUSING UNITS BUILT, WHICH INCLUDED HOUSES AND APARTMENT UNITS. THE REVISED GRAPH, SHOWN HERE, INCLUDES ONLY SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES, WHICH MORE ACCURATELY EXPLAINS THE CURRENT SITUATION.