Seller’s Market Will Soften Next Year But Real Estate Agents Remain Optimistic About 2020

Seller’s Market Will Soften Next Year But Agents Remain Optimistic About 2020, According to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Survey for Q4 2019

Survey of 500 leading agents dives into tips for selling homes in the winter, 2019 real estate reflections, and housing market predictions for 2020

Real estate agents remain optimistic about 2020 even as a shift toward a balanced housing market takes shape in some pockets of the country, according to findings from HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Survey for Q4 2019.

“We can’t thank our network of top-performing agents enough for their continuous support and participation in these quarterly surveys,” said HomeLight COO Sumant Sridharan. “It’s crucial that buyers and sellers know what’s happening in the market currently and what to expect in the upcoming months so they can plan for a satisfying and successful experience.”

The quarterly survey polled 500 top-performing U.S. real estate agents between Nov. 12 and Nov. 21, 2019, to gain the expertise of the industry’s leading professionals. HomeLight identified these top performing agents by comparing a number of metrics including their average days on market, the total number of sales, average sale to list price ratio, and other proprietary data points.

Survey results also show that talks of a recession in 2020 have generally subsided; over three-quarters of agents surveyed say they’re optimistic about the housing market next year. Only 12 percent of top agents think a recession will hit before the end of 2020.

However, the inventory drought persists. Like Q2 and Q3 of 2019, nearly half (46 percent) of survey respondents report inventory was lower than expected in Q4. In fact, reflecting on 2019, nearly 40 percent of top agents say that the inventory shortage was the number one factor impacting real estate markets across the country this year.

According to the survey results, though, sellers shouldn’t confuse low inventory and steady demand for housing with a pricing free-for-all. 60 percent of top agents say that bidding wars are on the decline, indicating that buyers have their limits on what they will reasonably pay. Furthermore, over 50 percent of top agents say the biggest challenge for sellers headed into 2020 will be the tendency to overprice.

In Q4, 48 percent of top agents described their local market conditions as a “seller’s market” (down from 55 percent in Q3), and many of those (41 percent) believe that the seller’s market will carry into 2020. This quarter also saw a 12 percent increase in the number of agents who characterized their local conditions as a “buyer’s” or “balanced” market.

“Based on the experts’ opinions, if sellers price their home right and if low interest rates continue, they should feel confident about the outcome of their home sale when they list next year,” said HomeLight VP of Agent Services Chris Crocker. “Meanwhile, buyers will enjoy increased purchasing power but should expect that finding a home when supply is limited will be a challenge — that’s where a real estate agent who really knows local inventory can be a huge asset.”

Other key findings from the survey shed light on best practices for selling homes in the winter:

Real estate slows down in the winter, but prices stay high.
64 percent of top agents say homes in their area take longer to sell in the winter season. However, that doesn’t mean sellers need to sacrifice on price. Nearly 60 percent of agents report that homes generally sell for the same amount or more during this time of year.

Keep the house safe, well-lit, and inviting for the best winter house showing experience.
The no. 1 winter house showing tip that top agents recommend is to clear driveways and sidewalks for appointments (30 percent of respondents). Twenty-four percent suggest letting in natural light, and 18 percent recommend amping up the coziness factor.

Leave up the holiday decor to attract buyers, with the exception of religious symbols.
65 percent of top agents recommend that sellers use tasteful holiday decor to make a space feel bright when showing the house. The most recommended holiday decorations include a decorated tree (24 percent), outdoor holiday lights (17 percent), and wreaths (16 percent). But stay clear of religions decorations; 42 percent of agents say that religious decorations are the worst offender for staging purposes.

For additional findings, download the Top Agent Insights Report featuring a summary of the results.

About HomeLight

HomeLight’s vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. We provide software and services to home buyers, sellers, and real estate agents including HomeLight Agent Matching, the investor matching platform Simple Sale, HomeLight Home Loans, and HomeLight Closing Services. Each year, HomeLight helps hundreds of thousands of clients connect with top real estate agents, and it facilitates billions of dollars of real estate on its platform.