Fewer real estate agents think now is a good time to sell a home in their markets, according to a survey of 468 Redfin real estate agents from 22 U.S. metropolitan areas. The survey, conducted Dec. 12 through Dec. 14, showed 65 percent of agents saying it was a good time to sell. That's down from the 72 percent who said so in the third quarter and the 86 percent who said so in the second quarter.
The data is not seasonally adjusted, and the report did not provide a year-over-year comparison for the statistic. But a spokeswoman for Redfin noted the shift reflected agents' observations that the market is starting to balance out after 2013's spike in home sales and prices. Fifty-six percent of those surveyed said now is a good time to buy, which is consistent with the third-quarter sentiment.
A lot of potential homebuyers put their searches on hold during the holidays. But sellers have been dealing with more than just a seasonal decline in shoppers. They've also been battling their unrealistic expectations of how much their homes are worth: 63 percent of agents said that was the largest obstacle faced by sellers in the fourth quarter.
Home sales and prices have continued to see year-over-year growth, according to the latest DataQuick real estate numbers, but mortgage rates are also on the rise, which agents expect may price some buyers out of the market. In the Redfin survey, 39 percent of agents said sales and price gains would be severely limited if rates hit 5.5 percent in 2014 (they're just above 4.4 percent at the moment, according to Bloomberg).
Despite agents' seeming decline in enthusiasm, it remains a sellers' market -- shopping for a home in the offseason has its benefits. Buyers, on the other hand, are complaining of a limited inventory of unsatisfactory homes. Agents identified the small number of homes for sale as consumers' main frustration in the homebuying process.
If you're looking for a good deal on a home, it's not a bad idea to browse during the off-season, because the market tends to be a little less competitive in the winter than in the summer. Just as you should consider many options for the home, shop around for a good mortgage - to help with this, credit scoring models de-duplicate mortgage inquiries made within a 14-day window, so your can find the best deal without hurting your credit scores.