How Does the Housing Market Look Heading Into Fall?

Home For Sale Real Estate Sign and Beautiful New House.
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When it comes to real estate in 2021, there’s just one word to describe it.

Hot.

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It started in 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic, as urban dwellers fled the dense cities and moved to the spread-out suburbs, snapping up properties sight unseen in some cases. And as jobs went remote and workers realized they no longer had to live in a set spot, the moves continued in 2021. With a serious lack of inventory, bidding wars ensued, some buyers skipped home inspections or paid cash to lure sellers to accept their offer, and the most-coveted homes sold seemingly the moment they went on the market.

But now that we’ve reached the next season, what will fall hold for the real estate market? According to a report from Realtor.com, the market is starting to cool down — just a bit — and prices are starting to stabilize.

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One of the indicators is the time a home spends on the market. It usually takes longer to sell a home in the late summer and early fall as families want to be in place for the new school year, and the Realtor.com report indicates that’s happening. While in 2020 the number of days a home stayed on the market declined until October, this year, the time on the market increased in both July and August over the previous month to reflect a more typical seasonal shift, per the report.

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The median national home price for active listings decreased from $385,000 to $380,000 from July to August. And while the median listing price was 8.6% higher than last August, the annual growth rate declined for the fourth month in a row and fell into single digits for the first time in more than a year. Realtor.com said.

“The fall home-buying season is likely to be busier than usual but nothing near the frenzy seen earlier this year,” said Robert Heck, the vice president of mortgage at Morty, which assists homebuyers in the mortgage process. “Historically, the fall ushers in less homebuying competition and lower prices as schools start and the holiday season begins. Seasonality this year could be less noticeable if home prices stabilize and prospective homebuyers that have been waiting on the sidelines for the summer buying season come to an end, come back into the market.

“Real estate experts anticipate more homes will go up for sale, helping to slow down the historic price increases and bidding wars of the past year. We have seen inventory begin to trend up through the end of summer, which should help buyers to some extent.”

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That’s the national outlook. What are local real estate professionals seeing on the ground in their communities? Very similar trends.

In Fairfield, Connecticut, associate real estate broker Glen Pizzolorusso said the market remains hot for turnkey properties, but buyers willing to tackle a project might have a chance to find a property.

“The insanity has subsided a bit. Several months ago, most inventory was receiving multiple offers,” he said. “Over the last 90 days we have seen houses that are not priced accurately, homes that need some updating/repairs, or homes with strange features, all sitting on the market for much longer than they were. I am still seeing a tremendous amount of activity on well-priced, move-in ready homes, and anticipate this trend to continue through the spring market of next year, aside from the obvious slowdowns around the holidays.”

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Rogers Healy, the owner of an eponymous real estate brokerage in Dallas, said the market has been spring-like all year and anticipates it being that way even longer.

“I have used the term ‘Sprummer’ several times for the last 18 months, and that is how I define the current market,” he said. “The market is no longer seasonal as we have been experiencing a spring market all season long. I expect that the first half of fall is going to continue to be another busy time with the market. Individuals looking to move this time of year will typically try to do so before Thanksgiving, allowing ample time to close prior to hosting the holiday season. The fourth quarter is always the busiest time at our brokerage, and I expect that same trend to continue this year.”

He added he expects homes will sit on the market longer than they did in the recent months, and not as many properties will be sold sight unseen.

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Buyers are starting to have more luck finding homes in the Lincoln, Nebraska, area — but only a small opening.

“There are definitely still not enough homes on the market to satisfy buyers, but there is a lot more availability and listings coming to the market now and into the fall,” said Melanie Dawkins, a licensed real estate agent with Red Door Realty. “Typically there is a slight cooldown at school begins, and that didn’t happen a whole lot this year in the Heartland. Property values shot up early this spring, it seemed cash was the only way to buy a house, and buyers had to waive a lot of contingencies if you want to go. The good news for the housing market this fall is that it’s not quite so frantic. Some properties where I work in Nebraska are on the market for sometimes a month!”

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About the Author

Jami Farkas holds a communications degree from California State University, Fullerton, and has worked as a reporter or editor at daily newspapers in all four corners of the United States. She brings to GOBankingRates experience as a sports editor, business editor, religion editor, digital editor — and more. With a passion for real estate, she passed the real estate licensing exam in her state and is still weighing whether to take the plunge into selling homes — or just writing about selling homes.

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