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Low inventory led to cooling homebuyer demand in March

by Marcus Paul

 

The Redfin Housing Demand Index decreased in March to 108 from 123 in February, a 14 percent drop, according to Redfin’s latest report. Although the trend of homebuyer demand is cooling down from its record high of 132 in January, an index of 108 is still one of the strongest that the market has seen in the last 4 years.

The Redfin Housing Demand Index is based on thousands of Redfin customers requesting home tours and writing offers. A level of 100 represents the historical average for the three-year period from January 2013 to December 2015.

The reason for this decreasing housing demand is simply because of a limited selection of homes for sale, constraining the options for interested buyers. Also, this March had 12.5 percent fewer homes for sale than the previous March, marking the 22nd consecutive month of year-over-year inventory declines.

Nawab Manjee, a Redfin real estate agent in Chicago, told the Redfin blog that the lack of selection makes for an unbalanced market.“Lack of selection is definitely an issue for my clients,” Manjee said. “For example, large condo buildings that have hundreds of units will only have two or three listings, with the desirable ones getting snapped right up, where in a more balanced market, you’d have 10 or 15 listings per building to browse, with the assurance that more were on the way.”

But while real estate agents are somewhat concerned at the effect of the housing demand drop on the housing market, Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson says that this instability will not last.

“The market is missing its moment because of too-low inventory,” she said.  “Mortgage rates are the lowest they’ve been this year. Meanwhile, low unemployment rates and high consumer confidence should create continued momentum in homebuyer demand. But, instead, we’re seeing demand cooling when it should be peaking. For this reason, we think the 2017 market will be a late bloomer, with new listings coming on later in the year and sales peaking in the early fall, instead of summer.”

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