Despite hot market, seller experience in 2021 consistent with past years — except for one thing

A new Consumer Housing Trends report from Zillow revealed that despite the blistering market for much of the year, most home seller experiences in 2021 were generally similar to past years. There was, however, one notable exception: Nearly a quarter of sellers reported getting four or more offers on their properties.

Twenty-four percent of sellers got at least four bids on their homes this year, up from 14% in 2020 and from an average of 15% over the past three years. The share of sellers who received three offers is also up, rising to 16% this year from 13% last year.

In contrast, the shares of sellers who received zero, one, or two offers are all down annually. In particular, the percentage of sellers who got a single offer on their homes dropped to 31% this year after hovering between 36% and 37% from 2018 to 2020.

Otherwise, however, the demographic and experiential snapshots of 2021 sellers remained generally consistent, even given the extraordinary environment that the COVID-era housing market has been. The share of sellers that had an offer fall through was stable, with most (56%) indicating no failed offers and 21% reporting a singular mishap. The typical (median) seller got two offers, consistent with the last three years of data and consistent with the snapshot of home buyers that Zillow released last month.

Likewise, most sellers (74%) indicated that at least one of the offers they got was either all cash or without a financial contingency. Still, while the number of buyers who paid for their homes without a mortgage grew to 32% (up from 28% last year), 68% still used a home loan to make their purchase. This suggests that, even in the hot market, buyers who finance can still compete with all-cash offers, as long as their offer still appeals to sellers’ wishes for optimized profit and a fast sale.

Similarly, most sellers (65%) said they received at least one offer that waived an inspection. However, per Zillow’s September buyer trends report, 88% of successful buyers say they did get an inspection prior to their home purchase. The gap between offers waiving inspections and buyers who do complete them implies that waiving the inspection hasn’t been a surefire way to win a bidding war, and that insisting on completing an inspection doesn’t tank an offer as long as other seller desires are satisfied.

“Our 2021 survey of buyers found buying a home got more challenging in the past year, but many buyers were ultimately successful in landing a home without taking unnecessary risks,” Manny Garcia, a Zillow population scientist, said. “Most buyers continue to get inspections, and sellers appear to prioritize higher offers over waived inspections. Most buyers are ultimately achieving homeownership by doing their research, making trade-offs, and considering a diverse array of options.”


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