U.S. REAL ESTATE OVERVIEW
Note: February 2021 data below are the most recent released by the National Association of Realtors.
Existing-home sales declined in February, following two prior months of gains, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Month-over-month, only one major region saw an increase in February, but all four U.S. regions recorded year-over-year gains.
Total existing-home sales (transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops) decreased 6.6% from January to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.22 million in February. Sales in total climbed year-over-year, up 9.1% from a year ago (5.70 million in February 2020).
"Despite the drop in home sales for February – which I would attribute to historically-low inventory – the market is still outperforming pre-pandemic levels," said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.
He cautioned of a possible slowdown in growth in the coming months as higher prices and rising mortgage rates will cut into home affordability.
"I still expect this year’s sales to be ahead of last year's, and with more COVID-19 vaccinations being distributed and available to larger shares of the population, the nation is on the cusp of returning to a sense of normalcy," Yun said. "Many Americans have been saving money and there's a strong possibility that once the country fully reopens, those reserves will be unleashed on the economy."
How Does this Affect Pricing?
The median existing-home price for all housing types in February was $313,000, up 15.8% from February 2020 ($270,400), as prices rose in every region. February's national price jump marks 108 straight months of year-over-year gains.
"Home affordability is weakening," Yun said. "Various stimulus packages are expected and they will indeed help, but an increase in inventory is the best way to address surging home costs."
Total housing inventory at the end of February amounted to 1.03 million units, equal to January’s inventory and down 29.5% from one year ago (1.46 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.0-month supply at the current sales pace, slightly up from January’s 1.9-month supply and down from the 3.1-month amount recorded in February 2020. NAR first began tracking the single-family home supply in 1982.
Properties typically remained on the market for 20 days in February, down from both 21 days in January and from 36 days in February 2020. Seventy-four percent of the homes sold in February 2021 were on the market for less than a month.
First-time buyers were responsible for 31% of sales in February, down from 33% in January and from 32% in February 2020. NAR's 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 31%.
Individual investors or second-home buyers, who account for many cash sales, purchased 17% of homes in February, up from 15% in January and equal to the percentage from February 2020. All-cash sales accounted for 22% of transactions in February, up from both 19% in January and from 20% in February 2020.
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 2.81 in February, up from 2.74% in January. The average commitment rate across all of 2020 was 3.11%.
"This year, we've seen fair housing protections extended, recognized Realtors®' remarkable volunteerism, and are collaborating with policymakers to increase revitalization endeavors in numerous neighborhoods," said NAR President Charlie Oppler, a Realtor® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and the CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. "We have made an incredible amount of notable progress thus far in 2021, and NAR is committed and encouraged to continue those efforts."
GETTING YOUR HOME READY TO SELL
When preparing your home for sale, a number of simple cosmetic changes often provide the biggest return on investment. Here are three tips to upgrade your house without breaking the bank:
Bring in the light.The right light creates the right mood. Adding lights to dark rooms can make your home feel warm and inviting. Bring outdoor light inside by opening curtains and installing economical sun tubes.
Create Space.Many of today's buyers are looking for open rooms. Consider removing unwanted walls to make your home feel more spacious. Buyers will often pay a premium to get a bit of extra room.
Replace Flooring.Get rid of that old carpet in the den and replace it with today's newer hardwoods and laminates. You don't have to spend a lot to make a big impression!
These simple tips can help you sell your home and take advantage of our today's market. Please contact us if you have any questions about selling your home. We are here to help!
THE PRICE IS RIGHT... OR IS IT?
If you are planning to put your home on the market -- especially if you live in a place where prices are rising and buyers are competing for homes -- it can be tempting to list your property at a high price hoping that you'll actually get it. After all, it can work with cars, why not with homes?
You may want to think twice -- the resale of homes and automobiles are very different things.
Experienced Realtors who have been through dozens, scores, or even hundreds of transactions, will advise you to price your home appropriately from the outset because it's pivotal to seeing the home sold quickly and at the best price. Research backs up what experienced Realtors already know: overpricing your home and then lowering the price a few times most often leads to a final sales price significantly below what you originally should have asked for it.
And, to make matters worse, the longer a home remains on the market, the deeper the discount is likely to be off the original price. Ouch!
Get Your FREE Home Evaluation
How to price your home correctly
Many homeowners seek to price their home based on factors like the price they paid for it, the balance that they currently owe, or simply on the profit they need to buy another house or to meet their financial goals. These motivations are perfectly understandable but in reality the value of your home is what the market will bear. Here's the problem: If a property is overpriced, some potential buyers will avoid looking at it at all (and having no one show up to see it is a pretty clear message from the market). Others may view the home but walk away without making an offer.
So, what can you do? Choose a Realtor who can provide you with the best comparative market analysis (CMA) and who understands your local area intimately. Some agents may attempt to woo you with an inflated price -- it probably happens every day somewhere -- but in the end the market will speak clearly, and choosing an experienced Realtor who understands the importance of market-driven pricing will end up being a choice you won't regret.
Your Realtor's CMA should include sales prices for similar properties nearby that have sold recently, prices for currently listed homes (these will be your competition), and prices of homes that were taken off the market because they didn’t sell. Look for a Realtor with demonstrated experience who can factor in a range of local market issues to produce that all-important first price.
If the price is right from the beginning, it usually means not only a faster sale, it typically means more money in your pocket.