A Look at the Real Estate Market as Fall Begins

As fall begins and the leaves start to drop, typically, so does the real estate market. This year though, we have some encouraging trends as we enter the year’s final quarter. According to Metrolist data, September saw 4,457 homes go under contract and 3,949 closed transactions; roughly a 16% and 18% increase over last year, respectively. As far as this time of year goes, we’re seeing some of the most robust sales figures since 2009, when first time home buyers were being enticed by an $8,000 tax credit.

Additionally, the average time a home is active on the market has dramatically decreased from a year ago, shrinking from 105 to 64 days. Combining that sort of demand with market inventory levels down 32% less than last year, home prices are on the rise. They’re nowhere near the peak prices of 5-6 years ago, but up enough that actually making money on the sale of your home doesn’t seem like so much of a fairy tale as it has in recent memory.

Another factor contributing to today’s unique real estate market is the fact that mortgage interest rates are at historic lows. Not just the low for this year or even this decade, interest rates have never been this low since the beginning of time.

However, cautious optimism may be in order. There are still whispers about families abandoning their foreclosure-imminent homes in the middle of the night. Some believe banks temporarily pulled the reins on their foreclosure processes due to last year’s “robo-signing” scandal, where, due to the sheer volume, foreclosure documents were allegedly being executed by bank officials without being sufficiently reviewed, forcing many homeowners to into foreclosure illegitimately. The implied result is that another wave of foreclosed homes is on the way to drive prices back down.

Whether you see the glass half-full or half-empty, it seems, at least for now, the market is stable and nothing irrational is going on. The way Kirby Slunaker, the President and CEO of Metrolist sees it, ““This is the best environment for sellers that we’ve seen in a long time and may be a leading indicator for other like-sized markets around the U.S.” He continues, “With 13-year historic lows for available homes and the continued strength in sales, we’re optimistic that home prices will hold stable throughout the fall and winter months.”

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