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Homes Usually Sell for Less in Dec. – but Not This Year

The pandemic tossed traditional “best time of year to buy a home” advice out the window. This year, low inventory and strong demand continue to drive the market.

CHICAGO – With low housing inventories and high buyer demand, home sellers are expected to continue to command higher home prices this winter – an unseasonable trend in the housing market.

“Sellers will have the ball in their court, so to speak, as there are more buyers than sellers,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s chief economist. “This means seller-friendly trends like rising home prices and quick-selling homes.”

In September, home inventory was 39% lower compared to a year ago, but buyers are out in force trying to lock in record-low mortgage rates to help them save on financing costs. Seventy-one percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than a month, according to NAR data. Properties typically stayed on the market for just 21 days in September – an all-time low. That is down from 32 days a year ago. The median existing-home price for all housing types sold in September was $311,800, a 14.8% increase compared to a year ago.

And home prices are on the rise. The national median home listing price climbed 11.1% in September compared to a year earlier. It’s now $350,000. Price per square foot has increased 13.9%, realtor.com data shows.

Hot housing market likely won’t cool in winter

“Prices are high,” says Simon Isaacs, broker-owner of Simon Isaacs Real Estate in Palm Beach, Fla. “People are getting what they’re asking.”

Move-in-ready homes tend to have the highest demand, real estate professionals say. Homes that don’t require repairs, as well as homes that show off in-demand amenities – such as extra space, outdoor areas, privacy and rooms that can double as home offices or learning areas – likely will sell the fastest, real estate pros say. Homes for sale that offer virtual tours, which buyers can peruse from the safety of their own homes, have also grown in appeal during the pandemic.

Home sellers need to be ready for possible multiple offers for their home. Real estate pros are suggesting to buyers that they don’t rush to accept offers too quickly. Sellers usually have 24 to 48 hours to accept an offer.

“Literally eight hours of sleep could net you an extra $30,000,” Matt Curtis, owner of Matt Curtis Real Estate in Huntsville, Ala., told realtor.com.

Source: “Wow! How Home Sellers Can Make a Bundle in the ‘Best’ Winter Sales Season in Years,” realtor.com® (Nov. 4, 2020)

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