It’s a Great Time to Sell a Home—and to Buy Again
Across the United States, home sellers are feeling good. Great, in fact. And why shouldn’t they? The residential real estate market is healthier now than it has been in over a decade. Across the board, we’re seeing strong demand turn into fast-moving inventory and higher prices.
If there’s been any problem with this picture, it’s that the supply of homes for sale in some markets has been tighter than tight, leaving many would-be buyers in the lurch. Thankfully, there are plenty of factors leading more and more existing homeowners to realize that now is a great time to sell a home—and buyers may see the benefit.
Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey gives a good reading of how Americans view the housing market. In April, 52% of respondents said it is a good time to sell a home. That’s the highest percentage since the survey began in 2010, and it’s almost five times higher than in April 2011.
It makes sense that consumers feel that way, right? After all, existing-home sales are up, inventory is moving at a rapid clip, and in many markets home values are either fully recovered or getting close to being fully recovered. What’s not to love?
It’s no wonder existing homeowners are indeed acting on this perception that it’s a terrific time to sell. Visitors to realtor.com® looking to sell have increased 32% over last year.
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And if a successful sale is judged by the time it takes and the price it captures, sellers are far more successful now than they have been in 10 years.
But here’s the reality: Selling a home is usually just the first (critically important) step in the process of buying another home. We find that more than 85% of today’s sellers indicate that they also intend to buy. So while they’re adding to the inventory of homes for sale, they’re also dipping back into it. And buyer traffic on realtor.com is also up 31% over last year.
As buying competition, homeowners have some advantages: They’re more likely to have more money to put down from their sale and often have better credit than first-timers. But the need to sell their primary home before they buy another, in most cases, could work against them in a competitive bid situation.
People’s reasons for selling and then buying again are numerous, but they mostly relate to life transitions and changing needs. Here are the top five reasons for selling right now:
1. Want to be in a different neighborhood (40%)
2. Need a home with different features (28%)
3. Need a bigger home (22%)
4. Want location with better weather, views, and/or lifestyle (19%)
5. Need to lower cost of living (17%)
However, different motivations hold sway at different ages. Heads of households between 35 and 44 years of age are driven by a desire to be in a different neighborhood and to have a bigger home. Those aged 65 and older are responding to retirement, looking for a home with different features, or trying to improve their weather, views, and/or lifestyle.
The biggest factors standing in the way of today’s sellers are time, making necessary improvements in their existing home in order to sell, and finding a replacement home to purchase.
Since mortgage rates have declined and stabilized at multiyear levels this spring, we’ll look back in a few years and realize what a unique window of time this was. Households that can indeed successfully sell and buy this year should improve their housing situation while locking in the lowest possible costs.