If last week’s Realtor® Magazine commentary is accurate, the timing for the peak home buying season looks as if it is apt to return to traditional seasonal patterns—unlike what happened in 2020. If the economists at the National Association of Realtors are reading the tea leaves correctly, last year’s scrambled real estate sales activity should give way to something more closely resembling the regular pattern. That would reflect the current rise in optimism that recovery from the pandemic is on the way—reversing the disruptions that first crippled spring sales, then brought unusually brisk activity in the summer and fall.
If traditional peak home buying activity does follow the spring-to-summer pattern, Realtor’s advice to real estate professionals would be timely: they “should prepare their house hunters” for shallow inventories and rapidly rising home prices.
The Experts Agree
It’s a warning that contrasts with consumer expectations reported by the National Association of Home Builders. In their own commentary released at the same time last week, the NAHB reported that future buyers “perceive” that they are now able to afford half or more of the homes available in their areas— a significant rise in optimism. The report found that buyer perceptions about the availability of homes are also on the rise, with 37% now expecting that their search for a home will “get easier” in the months ahead. A year earlier, far fewer held that view.
So, Which is it?
Readers might well wonder, which is it? Will house-hunters in dawning spring home buying season have an easier time finding the home they want at an affordable price? Or is Realtor Magazine’s headline— “Spring Buyers Must Be Ready to Act Quickly”—a more accurate read on what they should expect to find?
It’s true that Realtor’s assessment of listing price increases (in January, “up 15.4% over a year earlier”) and hefty inventory drops (in the 50 largest metro areas) are national rather than local statistics. Still, this season’s prospective buyers can’t go wrong if they expect and prepare for a competitive market rather than one that’s “easier” than before. Being ready to act quickly is easy enough—it can be as simple as organizing personal financial records and applying for a mortgage lender’s pre-approval letter. Another key preparatory move: have an experienced Realtor on your team from the get-go.