Do Two New Pieces Fit into the Real Estate Puzzle?

Our real estate market’s surges of activity are next to impossible to forecast with any degree of precision. Since intervening events can negate even the most well-grounded projections, it’s wise to keep in mind how tentative any reading of the underlying tea leaves can be. Even so, last week’s disclosures provided a high level of confidence that a market change could be on the way.

Two disparate pieces of the national real estate jigsaw puzzle from two trustworthy sources provided the clues. The two:

• From the Wall Street Journal, a finding that “The mood among sellers…shifted in recent weeks from apathy…to urgency.” Financial advisers and real estate agents are reporting that their clients are showing a new sense of readiness to list their properties. Friday’s edition provided one good reason. In a story headlined “Fed Official Favors Aggressive Rate Increases,” the takeaway was to expect a half-point (rather than quarter-point) Fed Funds rate increase. If area homeowners now expect a series of dramatic mortgage rate hikes, a decrease in the number of qualified buyers could also follow—pressuring more sellers to list sooner rather than later.
• Recently, word came of a new survey from that could confirm the first piece of the puzzle. It would also remove one basis for the residential market’s continuing price rises: the inventory shortage. “Housing Inventory Turnaround Possible” published the results of a new survey of 3,000 respondents. In it, a surprising 64% said they intend to sell their properties this spring or summer. For a housing market that has long been starved for inventory, a slowing of asking price increases might be expected.

If the national picture holds true for our own real estate market, a boost in the number of new listings should spur further interest from the area’s already well-motivated homebuyers.