By Peter Ricci
Nearly six in 10 respondents to the latest Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) survey reported higher buyer interest in 2012, a 34 percent increase from 2011 and one of the strongest signifiers yet of greater demand in real estate.
What’s more impressive, the number of agents who reported fewer buyer inquiries in the last year dropped by nearly half, from 29 percent to just 15 percent.
There was an additional (and interesting) nuance to REBAC’s survey, one that executive director Marc Gould actually did not draw attention to in his RisMedia article on the survey. REBAC asked its members for the top issues that prevented buyers in their local markets from completing a purchase, and for 2012, the top three were obtaining financing (49 percent of respondents), problems selling their current homes (43 percent) and economic security (50 percent).
For the first time in three years, though, “holding out for lower prices” was not among the top three reasons, a telling sign of how far home prices have gone since 2011. After early signs of stabilization in April, index after index has reported positive trends for prices, and finally last month, the Case-Shiller, the most influential index of all, went positive, and analysts are closely watching its next release on July 31.
Both findings are consistent with what Eileen Romito, a broker associate with Coldwell Banker in Edgebrook, has observed in her markets.
“I have definitely seen a significant uptick in buyer interest,” she said. “In some areas, inventory levels are down around 30 percent from previous years, which potentially indicates an uptick in prices in the future. The buyers who are active in the market have seen the best properties sell quickly, sometimes with multiple offers, and that gives them a firm grasp on reality – the reality that prices will not always be this low.”
And as prices increase (they’re already up 6 percent in Roscoe Village), more buyers will enter the fray, Romito said.