How to Tell the Difference Between a Buyer’s Market and a Seller’s Market
What you need to know when buying or selling a home
One important thing to remember about the property market is that it’s always in a state of change. Sometimes the market is favorable to buyers and sometimes it’s favorable to sellers. But don’t worry, a knowledgeable agent can guide you in the sale or purchase of your next home, no matter what type of market you’re facing.
What is a Seller’s Market?
A seller’s market is simply a property market that benefits you as a seller. In a seller’s market, there’s a scarcity of properties, which can drive up the price of homes, especially in desirable locations.
Sellers can depend on real estate experts to know what the market is doing, but here are some signs of a seller’s market:
– Low inventory when compared to previous months and/or years
– Homes are selling faster
– Less than six months of inventory on the market
– More homes are selling
– Median sales prices are growing
– Less information in real estate ads; just the bare details
– “For Sale” signs don’t stay up long before being replaced with “pending” or “sold”
What is a Buyer’s Market?
A buyer’s market is the opposite of the seller’s market. If you’re buying at this time you’ll be spoiled for choice as the supply of homes on the market exceeds the number of buyers, giving you the chance to score a fantastic deal.
A sharp agent will quickly be able to tell you where the market lies, but here are some signs of a buyer’s market:
– Inventory that is high when compared to previous months and/or years
– Homes are selling more slowly
– More than six months in inventory on the market
– Sales prices are shrinking
– Fewer sales are taking place
– Real estate ads are growing in size, giving more details and/or images
– “For Sale” signs are staying longer, meaning the days on the market are longer too
How Do I Figure out the Months of Inventory in a Market?
1. Look for the total number of active listings for the month prior to the current one
2. Look for the total number of sold or closed transactions for the same time frame
3. Divide the total number of listings by the number of sales. This figure represents the number of months of inventory there are.
For example, let’s say there were 6,500 listings in one month’s time. During that same time, there were 1,500 properties that were sold. Divide 1,500 into 6,500 and you arrive at 4.3 months of inventory, meaning that this is a seller’s market.
While a savvy real estate agent is the best resource for this information, other resources include real estate listing websites and/or your local real estate association.
Do All Markets Follow the Same Cycles?
Markets are always in a state of flux. At its core, people are the driving force behind the real estate market.
For example, as more people move into a location, the more need there is for housing. If the number of properties in the area cannot support the number of people moving in, prices of existing homes will likely rise until more homes can be built.
This constant change to the supply and demand in a market is how markets shift back and forth from being more favorable for either buyers or sellers.
Can I Buy in a Seller’s Market?
Absolutely, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park. You’ll need determination, knowledge, and most importantly, someone on your side who knows the market inside and out.
Something to consider – you don’t know the seller’s true reasons for wanting to sell. Maybe there’s a divorce pending or another baby on the way and they need more space fast. Whatever is going on with the seller, a savvy agent will spot opportunities to help you and the seller arrive at a mutually agreeable solution.
One key reason it’s vital to engage an agent in a seller’s market is for their negotiating skills. While it’s important to always negotiate, a seller’s market calls for serious help to ensure that you don’t pay more than you need to.
Should I Wait to Sell?
It depends. Is it mandatory that you sell right now or could you wait until it’s a seller’s market again?
Consult with an agent to get his opinion about your chances of getting what you need or want for the sale of your home. He just might have some options you may not have considered that will help you get out from under your home and get on with your life.
Don’t be afraid to sell or buy if you think the market isn’t in your favor. The real estate market can be highly varied, so trust your agent to help you get the best possible results, no matter what the market looks like.
Victoria Keichinger is the Vice President, Brand Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. When she's not managing national media and advertising for the Coldwell Banker brand at work, she finds herself most at home in Jersey City, NJ with her pre-school crush turned spouse and son. A true Francophile, she loves to travel and will go anywhere there are ski slopes.