If you’ve been sitting on the fence about selling your home, it might just be time to hop off. Now. To put it in other terms: 2018 is poised to be the year of the home seller in Central Florida! So what are you waiting for!?
“Sellers have been in the driver’s seat for the last three years, but this year is shaping up to be even better for several reasons,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist of realtor.com®. “Nothing is bad for sellers today.”
A combination of factors is coming together to make 2018 a prime seller’s market for most of the nation. Here’s what’s driving it:
Reason No. 1: Mortgage rates are still low
It’s all about the rates. Low mortgage rates translate to lower monthly costs. Lower costs entice buyers, which is good for sellers.
Although mortgage rates have been ticking up since mid-October to slightly over 4%, the rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage—the most popular home loan—are still hovering near 30-year lows. For now.
“We expect them to hold at this (4%) level for a while and continue to adjust up,” says Danielle Hale, managing director of housing research for the National Association of Realtors®. “Mortgage rates rarely move in a straight line. They could be in the 4.6% to 4.8% range, or higher, by the end of the year.”
What does that have to do with home sellers? Well, potential buyers who are armed with that knowledge might hustle to close on a home before a rate hike.
What if you’re nowhere near ready to put your house on the market? That’s OK. Even if rates nudge up by the end of 2017, they’re still expected to be low enough to seduce buyers. The tipping point is when rates reach 5%, experts say. That’s when they could put the brakes on the robust real estate market.
Reason No. 2: Inventory is shrinking
Remember in Econ 101, when you learned that low supply and high demand lead to rising prices? The same is true—in spades—for residential real estate. When inventory shrinks, available homes become more valuable. As Martha Stewart would say, that’s a good thing for sellers.
Let’s put it in perspective: In 2007, just before the housing crash, existing home inventory peaked at 4.04 million homes for sale, according to NAR data. Fast-forward to November 2016: There were only 1.85 million homes for sale, 9.3% lower than the year before—and a whopping 54% lower than the 2007 peak.
“Quite simply, sellers this year have the least competition,” Smoke says.
And get this: Not only are there fewer homes for sale, but the time those homes have spent on the market has decreased year over year as well. If priced correctly, the typical home should move quickly, Smoke says. And that’s another boon for sellers.
“Many potential sellers don’t want to think about having to prep a home for showings and deal with an indefinite period of having to keep things in perfect shape,” he says. “Fast-moving inventory limits that pain.”
Reason No. 3: Home prices are rising
Lower inventory and greater demand have pushed up home prices. The median existing-home price in November 2016 was $234,900, up 6.8% from November 2015, when it was $220,000, according to the NAR. And that’s no fluke. That was the 57th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
Higher prices particularly benefit the seller whose property value plunged during the recession, sometimes to less than he owed. Thanks to rising prices, many homeowners whose property was underwater can now sell without suffering a big loss.
“2017 will be a rare ‘balanced market’ for buyers, because even though mortgage rates are edging up, many sellers have recovered enough equity to be able to afford to sell,” says Colby Sambrotto, president and CEO of USRealty.com.
Reason No. 4: Job markets are strengthening
As unemployment decreases and wages (finally) increase, consumer confidence will climb. Increased confidence will spur buyers to jump into the market—which is, you guessed it—more good news for sellers.
These pieces of the puzzle create a “virtuous cycle,” Smoke says. It’s not a term he coined, but it’s one he hasn’t had a chance to use in many years.
“These things are all connected,” Smoke says. “If people are confident, they’re more likely to buy big-ticket items like houses and cars. And then they spend more money on other things. It reinforces the economy, creating a virtuous cycle.”
If you are considering selling your home this year, we’d love to speak with you about how to maximize your home’s exposure and value, help you sell on your timeline, and partner with you as a committed ally and fierce negotiator.
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