Home Sellers Are Confident, But Only to a Point

Housing Market News

Home Sellers Are Confident, But Only to a Point

Home sellers increasingly agree that the U.S. is in a seller’s market. More than half — 51 percent — think now is a good time to sell, up from 34 percent last year, according to a Redfin survey of home sellers conducted late last month.

When asked about the balance of power in the market, 58 percent said sellers have the advantage, up from 44 percent last year.

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With so many homeowners this confident, why aren’t more of them putting their houses up for sale this spring? Most simply love their current home and don’t want to move.

But affordability is playing a big role, too. Fifteen percent of homeowners we surveyed don’t plan to sell because they can’t afford a bigger or nicer home. Another 15 percent indicated they can’t find an affordable home, period.

“Many people looking to sell their home voice concerns about being able to find something to buy. It’s a feeling of being stuck in limbo,” said Redfin agent Sabrina Booth in Seattle, where inventory is down 33 percent year over year. “My advice is to ask a lender about a bridge loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). These financing options enable homeowners to secure their move-up home and sell without fear of being homeless.”

Also contributing to the inventory shortage are homeowners who are buying new houses, but keeping the ones they have. Eight percent of respondents said they plan to rent out their current home instead of selling it.

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Those who are listing this spring are plagued by affordability and low inventory concerns too

Among respondents whose home was already listed or who plan to list this spring, 37 percent worried about finding a home they want, and 28 percent worried about finding a home they can afford. Other top concerns among sellers include low appraisals and that general economic conditions and high prices might discourage buyers.

“Even though it’s a sellers market nationally, homeowners often have to make a leap of faith to list their properties because there may not be a more desirable home to move to,” said Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson. “We are now starting to see sellers’ anxiety play out in the data.  After steady growth in new listings over the last three months, early readings suggest that fewer homes are being listed in May than we saw listed in May last year in many markets.”

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Sellers are looking to upgrade or profit

Sellers this spring are motivated by a desire for a bigger or nicer home (38 percent) and potential profit (25 percent).

Relocation, downsizing, walkability and accessibility rounded out the list of reasons homeowners plan to sell.

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Sellers think prices will rise

Far fewer sellers — only 1 percent — think prices will fall this year, down from 7 percent in our last survey. They’re also more confident that prices will rise this year. Twelve percent think prices will increase a lot, up from 8 percent.

The conviction that prices will rise might have some homeowners putting off selling in the belief that their houses will appreciate even more.

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Much like last quarter, pricing in the middle range continues to be the favorite pricing strategy for sellers who plan on listing their home this year. Fifty-eight percent said they plan to price in the middle range, in line with responses from our last survey in January.

About the survey

Redfin conducted the survey by email April 24 through 29, 2016, receiving responses from 457 homeowners in 20 states.

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