Today, the National Association of Realtors released its monthly report for February on the housing market. I was really encouraged reading through it. Yes, existing home sales dropped slightly (by just .06 percent), but we have to remember what was going on during this time – snow, snow and more snow! I know that I was snowed in at my home for several days, and many people around the country found themselves inside staying warm, as opposed to outside looking at or closing on homes.
Another important consideration is that contracts are often written 30-45 days in advance of closing dates. So some of the February closings may trace back to the end of the holiday season, which is typically a slow time for our industry. The fact that the numbers remained relatively steady in spite of these two factors is positive from my perspective.
Inventory, or the number of homes available, was also higher, but this is a typical seasonal jump – many people put their homes on the market in February and March in anticipation of the spring buying season.
Looking through the report, it’s important to note that first time home buyers accounted for 42 percent of the existing home sales in February. Based on my travels and conversations with Coldwell Banker agents across the country, almost everyone is seeing more first time home buyers get off the fence and into the market. The next several weeks will be critical as we head toward the first time home buyer tax credit deadline on April 30, so we could see even stronger activity in this sector of the market.
Speaking of the tax credit, I encourage buyers not to wait until the last moment to try and go into contract to take advantage of this opportunity. Buying a home, especially for the first time, can be complex. Speaking with a real estate professional is a critical part of the process!