Everyone looking to buy a house this year must prepare for an exceptionally fast-moving housing market, property experts say. The precedent for the odds-defying demand were set last year, when the time it took to sell a home shrank at the same time as the numbers of home sales continued rising.
Buyers were snapping up available properties very quickly, and there's plenty of evidence that they're still doing so right now, according to new in-depth reports from real estate experts.
First, there's the fact of the incredibly fast pace of sales, which was evident by mid-year in 2020. According to a report by Zillow, the median time it tool to sell a home in June 2020 was just 16 days, while at the same time in 2019 it had been 21.
This accelerated pace of buying was still true even right before Christmas, 'at a time of year when the market generally slows down as the weather cools and people take time off for the holidays.' The average time it tool to sell a home in December 2020 was 16 days against a much longer 39 days in 2019.
And there is evidence that, if anything, the housing market is still gaining not losing speed. A report by Redfin has found that a record number of homes is selling for 14 days or under: that's a whopping 43 percent of homes selling within the first two weeks of going on the market across the country, the highest numbers of two-week sales in nine years.
Live in Ohio? You'll need to move very quickly: homes in some areas of this state have been going under contract in as little four days.
Unless, of course, you live in New York City, where everything appears to be moving at its own pace whatever the national trends are. Contrary to data elsewhere, NYC is experiencing a housing market lull, with homes taking longer to sell than elsewhere, though still faster than pre-pandemic.
Homes in the city are selling within an average of 28 days. Considering just how expensive New York property is, this is still pretty quick.
The reason for all this frenetic activity? A desperate lack of new listings. 'Buyers are incredibly hungry for listings, but unfortunately, there isn’t much to choose from, and that scarcity is making buyers all the more frenzied,' explains Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather.
'As a result, the majority of the homes that hit the market are getting multiple offers right away. Not only do you have to be fast to win a home, you have to be prepared and resourceful.'
Daryl's main recommendation is to be prepared to bid a little higher than the listing price, which means adjusting one's property search. 'I recommend that buyers on a tight budget target homes that are priced five to 10 percent below their maximum price so they have room to increase their offer in a bidding war.'
Alternatively, home buyers may benefit from waiting for the number of listings to increase, which inevitably will be the case once the worst of the pandemic is over and seller confidence returns.
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Anna K. Cottrell is now a freelance writer, having previously been a Content Editor for Future's homes titles. She writes about interior design, property, and gardening. On H&G, she specialized in writing about property – buying, selling, renting – sustainability and eco issues.
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