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Buyers are finding homes more quickly

New data from real estate brokerage Redfin reveals that buyers are finding homes faster, both in terms of the number of days they search and the number of houses they visit.

In the three-month period ending in February, a median homebuyer took 73 days from their initial home tour until closing on a home purchase. That’s down from 76 days in the same period last year, as well as the peak of 84 days in winter 2016. Additionally, it’s the shortest median home-search period during the winter months in at least six years, according to Redfin. 

“With more homes on the market, prices growing at a slower rate and even falling in some markets, and less competition from other buyers, finding a home is a lot less stressful this year than it has been in recent years,” said Tim Ellis, Redfin's senior data journalist. “When a buyer finds the home they want to make an offer on, there’s now a greater chance that their offer will be the only one and that the seller will accept it.”

Although buyers are getting the keys to their new homes more quickly, sellers are waiting longer to secure a buyer. Homes spent a median of 59 days on the market in February before going under contract, up two days from the same month last year. Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather explained that, with more homes for sale relative to the number of buyers, buyers are more likely to have their first offer accepted, while sellers are waiting longer for their home to be sold.

“It’s like a 1950s-era school dance with more boys than girls — the girls can quickly find a dancing partner, but more boys are waiting around with no one to dance with,” Fairweather quipped.

Buyers also are visiting fewer homes and writing fewer offers before finding success. Last year, buyers toured about 11 homes and made 1.8 offers before closing on a house. This year, those figures have decreased to 10 homes and 1.6 offers.

“Buyers this year are more prepared from the start of the process,” said David Ehrenberg, a Redfin agent in Washington, D.C. “Typically, when I meet a buyer to start to visit homes in person and strategize how to win the right home for the right price, she has already been browsing homes for sale online for months, and is now ready to focus on a narrow band of neighborhoods or buildings. 

“They’re only touring [homes] that they think have a strong chance of liking and being able to afford," Ehrenberg added. "My buyers have an idea from their friends of what it takes to win a competitive offer, so they’re more inclined to work with lenders that will give them a competitive edge, and include strong terms in their first offer, compared to buyers in years past.“

“The housing market isn’t as daunting for first-time homebuyers,” Fairweather added. “If you put in a fair offer, there is a good chance that offer will be accepted. Also, because mortgage interest rates are lower than they’ve been in over a year, homebuying is more affordable, especially in expensive places like San Francisco and San Jose where home prices have fallen.”


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