Only 16 Percent of Redfin Buyers Faced a Bidding War So Far in March, Down from 61 Percent a Year Earlier

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San Francisco, Boston, San Diego and Portland are the most competitive housing markets this month, but still only one in five homebuyers faced bidding wars—far fewer than a year earlier.

Just 16 percent of offers written by Redfin agents on behalf of their home-buying customers in the first three weeks of March faced a bidding war, down from 61 percent for the first three weeks of March 2018 and ticking up slowly from the record low of 12 percent in December.

Bidding Wars Rare in March

If the rate of bidding wars begins to increase in a meaningful way this spring, it will be one of the earliest signs that the market is heating back up, since buyers making offers is the earliest stage of the homebuying process.

Another good measure of the competitiveness of the market is how long homes stay for sale before going under contract (days on market). The faster homes find buyers, the more intense the market is for buyers. The typical home that sold in February spent a median of 59 days on market, up 2 days from a year ago. This is the largest year-over-year increase in time on market since January 2015, and it’s the first February to post an annual increase in days on market climb since at least 2011.

Days on Market Still Climbing

San Francisco, Boston, San Diego and Portland, Oregon are the most competitive housing markets in March, all with about one in five offers facing competition. Each of these markets saw over 65 percent of offers face competition during the same period a year earlier.

“This year even when there is competition among buyers for the same house, prices aren’t bid up as high as they were last summer,” said San Diego Redfin agent Katie Gilbert. “Overall it’s not as chaotic as last year, but buyers still need to move quickly to win homes in the popular areas.“

Even Seattle— a bidding-war hotbed in 2018—still hasn’t seen competition heat up just yet in 2019. Seattle’s rate was 17 percent so far this month, down from 72 percent a year ago.

The least competitive housing markets so far in March are Miami (5%), Dallas (8%) and Houston (9%). A year ago, all three of these markets were seeing 26 percent or more of Redfin offers face competition.

The rate of bidding wars is still down considerably in every market that Redfin agents serve. The largest percentage-point declines in the first three weeks of March compared to a year earlier were posted in the San Francisco Bay Area (-64 points), Boston (-60 points) and Seattle (-56 points). The smallest declines were in Atlanta ( -14 points), Houston (-18 points) and Phoenix (-27 points).

Rank Metro Area Share of Redfin Offers that Faced Competition (Mar. 1-21 2019) Share of Redfin Offers that Faced Competition (Mar. 1-21 2018) Share of Redfin Offers that Faced Competition (Feb. 2018)
1 San Francisco, CA 22% 86% 21%
2 Boston, MA 22% 82% 21%
3 San Diego, CA 20% 69% 21%
4 Portland, OR 20% 66% 20%
5 Denver, CO 19% 70% 19%
6 Philadelphia, PA 17% 47% 17%
7 Los Angeles, CA 17% 70% 15%
8 Seattle, WA 17% 72% 15%
9 Austin, TX 16% 53% 14%
10 Washington, D.C. 14% 57% 14%
11 Atlanta, GA 14% 28% 13%
12 Phoenix, AZ 14% 41% 12%
13 Raleigh, NC 11% 61% 12%
14 Chicago, IL 11% 40% 11%
15 Sacramento, CA 10% 59% 9%
16 Houston, TX 9% 26% 4%
17 Dallas, TX 8% 55% 4%
18 Miami, FL 5% 43% 2%

The table above indicates the bidding war rates for each of the largest metro areas Redfin agents serve.

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Senior Data Journalist / Real Estate Analyst

Tim Ellis has been analyzing the real estate market since 2005, and worked at Redfin as a housing market analyst from 2010 through 2013 and again starting in 2018. In his free time, he runs the independently-operated Seattle-area real estate website Seattle Bubble, and produces the "Dispatches from the Multiverse" improv comedy sci-fi podcast.

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