Housing Trends: Two-Thirds of Home Sellers in U.S. Plan to Sell Within Six Months, According to New Survey

Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and Beautiful New House.
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American home sellers appear poised to hop back into the market in a big way in the coming months, with about two-thirds of prospective sellers planning to have their homes sold over the winter, according to a new survey from Realtor.com.

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The survey of 2,583 U.S. adults, conducted in September and October by HarrisX and released Thursday, found that 65% of sellers expect to sell within the next six months. That includes 19% who have already listed their homes.

The expected surge in activity comes after many sellers sat on the sidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic even as low mortgage rates fueled demand from home buyers. As Realtor.com pointed out, expectations for bidding wars and quick sales are even higher now than they were during the spring.

“The pandemic has delayed plans for many Americans, and homeowners looking to move on to the next stage of life are no exception,” George Ratiu, Realtor.com’s manager of economic research, said in a press release. “Recent survey data suggests the majority of prospective sellers are actively preparing to enter the market this winter.”

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He added that buyers “should be ready for high asking prices and offer deadlines” because of high seller expectations.

The market has been tilting in sellers’ favor for a while now, with a months-long stretch of double-digit price increases that began last year and continued into 2021. But with more homes coming on the market, price increases should moderate, Ratiu said.

“Seasonality will play a key role in seller activity levels as we approach the typically-slower holiday period, with new listings already slipping in recent weeks,” he said. “As buyers race against the clock of rising mortgage rates, sellers who price their homes in line with today’s market and stick to their plans will likely see their expectations met.”

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Among the other key findings in the survey:

  • Nearly all of the current prospective sellers (93%) have already taken steps toward listing their homes, including working with an agent (28%). That’s up from 76% in the spring.
  • More than one-third of prospective sellers (36%) have researched the value of their homes and others in their neighborhood, as well as started making repairs or decluttering.
  • The rise in remote work has been a key driver in the decision by more home owners to sell. Nearly one-quarter (23%) of sellers are looking for a home office, while 19% no longer need to live near their workplace, up from 6% in March.
  • More than one-third of current prospective sellers think they can turn a profit (34%) from their sales, up from 24% in the spring.
  • About four in 10 prospective sellers (42%) said they will ask for prices above what they think their homes are currently worth, while 29% will look for a quick close. More than three-quarters (77%) said they would be willing to accept a lower offer to close quickly, up from 54% in March.
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In many parts of the country, home buying activity is already much higher than it was before the pandemic. As GOBankingRates recently reported, purchase volumes for the week of Oct. 18-24 was up 54% from the same week in 2019. At least one housing expert — Ed Pinto, director of the American Enterprise Institutes Housing Center — expects home price increases of 14%-16% for November and December.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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