Homebuyer Enthusiasm Slips; Growing Sense that the Market Is Shifting Toward Sellers

After a hectic spring run-up in prices and a tense summer of bidding wars, buyers are feeling less confident about the market. This year’s refrains of scarce inventory and bidding wars are curbing the buyer enthusiasm we saw in our last survey. With the latest Redfin Real-Time Home-Buyer Tracker, updated with data for the third quarter of 2012, we’ll try to understand the changing motivations and expectations of today’s buyer.

Now that we have data from three quarterly surveys, we see some clear trends emerging.

Home buyers surveyed by Redfin…

  • Believe that the market may be shifting against them: 46% of respondents believe now is a good time to buy, down two quarters in a row; in the first quarter it was 56%. Thirty-two percent believe now is a good time to sell, up two quarters in a row; in the first quarter it was 13%.
  • Are more confident that home prices are on the rise: 61% believe prices will increase, up two quarters in a row; in the first quarter it was 32%.
  • Increasingly prefer a conventional sale over a foreclosure or short sale: 62% of respondents were “very interested” in conventional sales, up from 57% in the second quarter and 48% in the first quarter, marking a return to normalcy after years of bargain-hunting;
  • Are more likely to back off when faced with multiple offers: 31% said they would step back from a bidding war, compared to 28% in the second quarter, the first time we asked this question. Just 8% would do whatever it takes, compared to 10% a quarter earlier.
  • Have growing concerns about the economy, despite rising home prices: 27% of respondents cited general economic weakness as a concern about buying this year, up from 24% in the second quarter and 20% in the first quarter.

For the full report including data tables and charts, visit the Real-Time Market Sentiment in Redfin’s Research Center.