Never content to sit around twiddling our thumbs, earlier this year we set out to supplement the broad real estate market insights we produce every month in our Real-Time Home Price Tracker and Real-Time Demand Pulse, adding even more depth with the introduction of our quarterly homebuyer survey, followed by our quarterly home seller survey. Now, to complete the trifecta, we are proud to introduce the inaugural Redfin Real-Time Agent Survey.
Real estate agents surveyed by Redfin:
- See now as a good time to buy a home more often than a good time to sell one: 75% of agents surveyed described now as “a good time to buy,” while only 54% described it as “a good time to sell.”
- Mostly expect price gains to be modest: Only 11% of agents expect home prices to “rise a lot” in the next year. The vast majority—76%—expect prices to “rise a little.”
- Are feeling the pinch of low inventory and multiple offers: 90% of agents indicated that low inventory was one of the most common challenges facing buyers, and 91% pointed to multiple offers.
- Are seeing both buyers and sellers gaining confidence in the market: 85% of agents agreed that buyers are becoming more confident about the market, and 84% agreed that sellers are becoming more confident.
- Have hope for future of the real estate profession: 59% of agents believe that the real estate profession will grow in size in the next five years, 30% believe it will remain the same, and just 11% see more declines in the future.
The picture painted by the agents is one of cautious optimism. Most agents we surveyed expect modest price gains, improvements for buyers as well as sellers, and moderate growth in the real estate industry. The results line up nicely with recent gains in overall consumer confidence, which has been rising steadily through the year. No V-shaped recovery appears imminent, but rather a slow and steady trend back toward something resembling a normal market.
“That agents believe both buyers and sellers are becoming increasingly confident bodes well for sales volume in 2013,” said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. “Over the past five years, eager sellers have been unable to find a buyer, or more commonly in 2012, eager buyers have been unable to find a seller. But going into 2013, we expect that a jittery market will settle down, and buyers and sellers will more easily come to terms. After years of irrational exuberance, crashes, foreclosure fire-sales, inventory shocks and saw-toothed trends, the cautious, broad-based optimism we’re seeing now is the best kind of recovery we could hope for.”
About the Survey
Respondents spanned 19 metropolitan markets in the U.S.: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Riverside / San Bernardino, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.
Data and charts are below. If you’d like the data segmented by market or by other customer demographics, please contact press (at) redfin (dot) com. If there are questions you’d like us to include in the survey next time, please just leave a comment below.
The Q3 2012 Redfin Real-Time Agent Survey
Better to Buy than Sell?
There’s a common perception that all real estate agents will always tell you that “it’s a great time to buy” or “it’s a great time to sell,” no matter what’s really happening in the market. Most agents we asked do indeed feel that now is a good time to buy (75%), likely thanks to prices hitting bottom in most markets across the country this year. For the same reason, only about half of the agents we surveyed (54%) feel that now is a good time to sell a home.
Modest Price Gains Expected
So with prices likely hitting bottom this year, are we in for another boom? Most agents don’t think so. The overwhelming majority (76%) expect prices to rise just a little in the coming year.
Agents Battling Low Inventory and Multiple Offers Alongside Buyers
We asked agents who work with homebuyers about the most common challenges they are facing in today’s market, and the response was overwhelming: Echoing what we have been hearing directly from buyers all year, over 90 percent of agents indicated low inventory or multiple offers as the biggest issues for buyers. Facing a market with many short sale and foreclosure listings (which often involve a much higher stress process to buy) and becoming fatigued from the discouraging process of repeatedly having promising homes slip through their fingers were the next-highest challenges with fewer than half as many responses.
Listing Agents Face a Mixed Bag of Challenges
On the flip side, agent responses about the most common challenges for sellers were more mixed. The only response chosen by a majority of agents was “unrealistic expectations” at 53 percent. Although prices have been on the rise for most of the year, it seems that sellers may have a more optimistic view on pricing than most agents.
Confidence, Aggression on the Rise Among Buyers
Agents overwhelmingly agreed with statements that both buyers and sellers are getting more confident (85% and 84%, respectively), and an equally large number (85%) are seeing more aggressive offers from homebuyers as they respond to the difficult realities of today’s market.
Two thirds of agents agreed that sellers are “frequently accepting all-cash offers, even for less than a financed offer.” This preference from sellers is likely related to another common issue we have heard: appraisals are frequently coming in below the contract price. Over half of agents (57%) agreed that this is an issue they have seen in their market.
A Rosy Future for the Real Estate Profession?
With the number of real estate agents having been shaved by the hundreds of thousands over the last few years, we asked agents whether they saw a turnaround for the industry now that the market is beginning to slowly rebound. Just over half of respondents (56%) expect a modest rise for the real estate agent profession over the next five years, while 30% expect things to remain roughly the same as they are now.
This week we will be sending out the latest Seller Survey, so stay tuned to these pages later this month for the latest look at how sellers feel about the market on the cusp of a winter with record-low inventory.