Tag Archive for: housing inventory

Considering selling? What can today’s homeowner be thinking? There are a mix of variables in today’s market, which add an element of mystery to forecasting, similar to a meteorologist’s predictions you might say. But the storm of buyers, at least in our region, remains. They cover the area, a dense fog destined to stick around until there’s a sudden boost in inventory and/or perhaps a series of half-percentage-point rate increases from the Fed. The concerns are real. On the other hand, the hope for a surge in listings to our market might be in the cards, but those are based upon a survey’s findings, they’re only another tool for speculation. Nonetheless, it’s a valid approach to entering the minds of home sellers.

Nowadays, the mind of a seller is certainly a mess, one could argue so too a buyer’s. It’s a seller’s market though, no? While that’s true, there’s an anxiety for many prospective sellers in prepping or listing their home for sale. Some also need to buy after they sell, a cause for hesitation and some Pepcid AC. “Sellers in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, believe it or not, are still a little apprehensive about our market,” underscores Christina M. Keller, REALTOR® with Realty Network Group. “While inventory is low, very low in fact, making life much easier for my clients, who are thinking of putting their home on the market; some feel rushed attempting to get all their ducks in a row.”

Despite the jitters for some sellers, most are in a great position to move forward and with frugality. “Sellers are opting to save their money by not doing some of the basic upgrades we normally would see them do only a couple years ago,” indicates Mrs. Keller. “They don’t sense the need to replace worn flooring, repaint interior rooms or update their kitchens and baths. My sellers are smart and they understand this is the furthest thing we’ve had to a buyer’s market in quite some time. Armed with the knowledge there are fewer homes for buyers to choose from, they’re counting their savings and are letting the new owners do the work themselves post settlement. It’s been my experience that many home shoppers in the Greater Scranton area have come to expect this and are willing to take on the challenge to make their own updates. Unless of course, there are structural defects in the home, then they need to address and resolve said issues before getting to the closing table.”

“I don’t see buyers asking for the simple repairs to be done nearly as much as I experienced in the past. Buyers are simply happy to be chosen as so often there are multiple offers on the table for a single listing. Buyers who are willing to accept the property ‘as is’ are often the deciding factor and make the difference between the sellers accepting their offer or moving on to another. This can happen even when another offer comes in higher than the winning bid. Good news for sellers, not so much for buyers. The end result of this is we simply can’t negotiate a price reduction as easily as we did in the past.”

If you’re a seller who’s looking for a slight edge, listing your home mid or during the latter part of April might be the ticket.  According to realtor.com, April 10-16th is the best time to list.  “Sellers…can expect to find relatively high buyer interest, coupled with limited competition from other sellers, that equates to fast-selling homes at top dollar,” says Danielle Hale, the chief economist for realtor.com. Likewise, in looking back at 2021 home sales, Zillow has determined the end of April (21st through 28th) is “the most opportune time” to list.

It appears the next few weeks could be the sweet spot for sellers in 2022!

There’s more uncertainty in the national real estate market than we’ve seen in some time. We’re two years beyond the onset of COVID and while we’re past many of the main health concerns of the virus, obstacles still remain. Remote work is likely here to stay, thus there are adjustments to housing post pandemic, which continue to unfold and impact the market. Is time running out for sellers to take advantage? Will buyers have a better chance of acquiring real estate being that their purchasing power has somewhat diminished? What’s in store for our market in the Greater Scranton area?

The future of real estate isn’t as dark as some would have you believe. The chance of a housing crash, the likes of 2007-2010, lacks much supporting evidence. In fact, the exact opposite might be true. Many experts are calling for a busy spring market this year and even Zillow projects home appreciation to hover around 9% for 2022. Many of the conditions, which existed prior to the housing bubble, simply aren’t present. When the market began to tank fifteen years ago, there was a surplus in housing inventory, mortgage lending resembled the Wild West and foreclosures occupied their fair share of the market.

Today, the narrative is quite different. There are shortages in markets throughout the country. Here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, our month’s supply of homes continues to unimpress buyers: year-to-date we sit at 1.29.* A magnifying glass would be required if the inventory got any smaller. In the four years, which consisted of the housing bubble, the market was heavily in favor of buyers and saw surpluses of housing between 7.3 and 9.6 month’s supply, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Furthermore, lending restrictions are much tighter than those that existed fifteen years ago. In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act became law with its eye toward consumer protection and a reform of the lending industry, especially riddance of predatory lenders. In general, those who are approved for a mortgage in 2022 are much more qualified than those approved even a dozen years ago. Finally, negative equity in the national housing industry has reached its lowest level over this same period of time. Much fewer homeowners are underwater than were during the housing bubble.

The future of housing post pandemic is not scary. Actually, 2023 will probably resemble 2019 more than it will last year. Inventory will bounce back, but that might take a year or two. The immediate future for sellers does pose a threat to them receiving top dollar for their investment. “There’s a little insanity in our market right now,” maintains Amy L. Kiesinger Bohenek, an Associate Broker with Realty Network Group. “Listing agents are faced with multiple showings and offers, sometimes over asking price. The appraisal process can be cause for a headache from time-to-time too. When a home doesn’t appraise, where does that leave both parties, especially the seller?” Despite this, the window for bidding wars and high price appreciation is closing. Despite climbing mortgage rates, demand for housing remains strong. Price appreciation will continue to trend up, albeit home prices shouldn’t be in the neighborhood of 18%, like much of last year. Sellers in our region should act sooner than later if they want to take advantage of this market they find themselves firmly entrenched.

Buyers must hang in there if they have a desire to pursue real estate anytime soon. The question remains, how can you sit tight when your purchasing power appears to be vanishing? Homebuyers have seen the average thirty-year fixed mortgage rate increase to roughly 5.3%, which is about 2% higher than it was at the beginning of the year. Many first-time buyers are already struggling to get their foot in the door and compete with others, including investors. Higher rates, for those who require a mortgage, generally mean they’ll have less to contribute toward a monthly payment. That’s why it’s important for buyers to have a plan, stick to a budget and know what they can afford.

In addition to the factors listed above, real estate in Northeastern Pennsylvania continues to have affordability as its ally. Year-to-date, the median home sales price is $179,000 (up 7.7% from the previous year).* New listings are down slightly, but inventory is expected to pick up. The groundwork for homes to appreciate at a slightly slower pace with small improvements in inventory is being laid. With an increase in buyer and seller competition that’s sure to come this spring and summer, being too conservative, will surely impact homeowners thinking about selling.

 

* Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS®

It’s hard to imagine the real estate terrain we find ourselves in these days, but yet here we are. Many parts of the Northeast, who prior to the pandemic were struggling, are now reporting record signs of growth – the largest increase in home sales since the end of 2006. Unlike much of the Northeast portion of our country prior to COVID-19, Northeastern Pennsylvania’s market was thriving. When the economy became derailed in March, real estate entered stealth-mode for over two months. Since then the terrain has been very smooth, churning at a fast pace. Home sales and home prices have been on the rise. Though homes are selling for 11.6% more this August versus one year ago, home prices year-to-date are enjoying a more comfortable 2.2% increase (year-over-year).*

Sure, the challenges are present for our market: our inventory is very low, more homes are going under contract than are being listed and commercial space is beginning to saturate our market; but the Greater Scranton area appears to be insulated from the other surrounding regions. Lower-priced homes have been in short supply this year, especially in recent months. Hopefully new construction kicks it into gear, but the higher costs of lumber since mid-April hasn’t helped the situation. Some homeowners have decided to stay put, which hasn’t boosted the housing inventory either. Nevertheless, our area remains very affordable and for many first-time buyers, they eventually find what they’re looking for.

Demand remains strong and thus it can be frustrating for some homebuyers, especially in our current seller’s market. It’s particularly stressful if you’re searching in print these days! Some of the properties we market in print are no longer active when they appear in black-and-white in the publication. Honestly, properties are moving fast these days. May we make a suggestion? If you’re actively searching for a home in today’s market, look online without hesitation. We would also strongly suggest having your agent keep you up to speed with the latest listings that fit your criteria and the trends affecting the neighborhood(s) where you’re searching.

Where you search online can make a difference too. Recently, we were awarded Best Real Estate Website in Northeastern Pennsylvania for the third year in a row by local newspaper readership. Our award-winning website, realtynetwork.net, features the entire inventory of homes on the market through our comprehensive database. Our site has a simple interface with straightforward navigation and high mobile-performance, so you can easily connect with us from wherever you are. There are many tools available for visitors to explore as well. Venture to our award-winning website today and let us know what you think.

 

* Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® stats