In most parts of the country, houses are selling 50% faster than last year. For parts of the … [+] Midwest, it’s even more competitive.
It’s no secret that for-sale homes are in short supply. According to the Census Bureau, the market has just a 3.3 month supply of inventory — the lowest level on U.S. record.
The shortage has spurred countless bidding wars, pushed home prices upward and made the housing market more competitive than ever. In fact, the average house last month sold in just 16 days. That’s 44% faster than last September — when it took nearly a full month for the average home to sell.
According to Chris Glynn, principal economist for Zillow
, the speed is an anomaly for this time of year.
“The September acceleration bucks typical seasonal trends that generally show the market beginning to slow in September as the weather cools, children go back to school and the busy spring-summer home shopping season wanes,” he says.
In 31 of the country’s 50 biggest metro areas, homes sold at least 50% faster than the same time last year. And in the Midwest? Properties are going even quicker.
In Columbus, Cincinnati and Kansas City, for example, it took a mere four days for a home to sell in September. In Indianapolis, it took just five.
Homes in the entry-level price spectrum are selling on the faster side as well. Homes priced between $186,000 and $260,000 are selling in about 14 days on average, while those in the next price tier — up to $344,000 take just two days longer. Those priced above the $344,000 point are taking between 20 and 33 days, on average.
How buyers can compete
Clearly, homebuying is competitive this fall — and much more so than usual. As Glynn puts it, “2020 is not a normal year.”
Does that mean finding an affordable home is impossible, though? Most certainly not.
If you’re on the hunt for a house and facing stiff competition, experts say there are several ways you can stand out and improve your chances.
First, hiring a local real estate agent can help. According to Andy Sachs, an agent with Keller Williams in Newton, Conn., it’s important that your agent knows the market. Agents from out of town? They can often “encourage overpaying, due to their lack of market knowledge,” Sachs says.
Local agents may also have a line on homes not yet listed. This could allow you to make an offer before other buyers are even on the table.
“A local agent will have a better handle not only on appropriate value of on-market listings, but they’ll have the inside scoop on homes not yet on the market,” Sachs says. “Because this market was created by the COVID pandemic, many sellers do not want to go to open market and would gladly sell if they were brought a buyer.”
Getting pre-approved for your mortgage loan, writing the seller a personal letter, and including an escalation clause — which increases your offer should you get outbid — are all strategies that can help as well.