Home sellers have renewed confidence in the housing market, but are anxious about buyers qualifying for loans to buy their homes.
A new survey by Redfin of 22 metro areas including Charlotte shows that homeowners are hopeful about real estate in the new year. In its Real-Time Seller Survey, the company found that 38 percent of respondents thought now is a good time to sell in their neighborhood, a big increase from 22 percent last year at the same time.
Charlotte sellers are sensing that now is a good time to list too, according to Minnie High, a Realtor and broker with RE/MAX Metro Realty. “Now that we’re past the holidays, I’m telling them we have to list by the end of February or early March to capture the spring break market.”
Virginia Popovich with Keller Williams Realty echoes that sentiment, saying that seller confidence is returning even though January got off to a shaky start because of bad weather.
Cindy Barnes, a broker and Realtor with Allen Tate Realtors, has found examples even of “over-confidence” with some Charlotte sellers, who are foregoing staging or wanting to reduce commissions for buyers’ and sellers’ agents.
Sellers are looking to move for a variety of reasons, but 44 percent said they want to move up to a larger or nicer home from the one they currently own. Another 29 percent want to move to another location while 16 percent are looking to downsize.
In Charlotte, most sellers don’t move away, said Popovich. Even those entering retirement tend to stay in the Queen City. Families looking to upgrade generally move closer in to center city or look to buy a better quality home.
Regardless of the motive, sellers are expressing a pent-up demand to move. As Barnes said, “Life happens. People have babies, get married and downsize.”
Also, there’s still a lot of relocation interest in Charlotte. Barnes had three families contact her this week from Wisconsin, New York and even Saudi Arabia inquiring about area housing.
However, concerns over buyers finding financing to purchase new properties, which could limit demand for homes, and lack of available inventory of homes for sale are equally troubling to sellers, with 29 percent reporting these worries. Other concerns over listing properties included receiving a low appraisal, 28 percent, and being one of multiple bidders on a property, 27 percent.
High said many of her sellers are on the fence, fearing that their homes will sell fast and they’ll have no place to go because inventory is so tight. For those who are listing, sellers want to deal only with serious candidates who are prequalified.
Popovich said she calls sellers every day to test whether they are ready to move, but for many the biggest issue is where they will move to once their house is sold. She encourages sellers to consider temporary housing, which can afford them the time to find the right home and not have to settle for what is available.
Since last quarter’s survey, general economic conditions were not as significant a concern: 26 percent of sellers said it was an issue in this survey compared with 39 percent last quarter. Twenty-two percent said they worried about rising interest rates.
For some sellers, mortgage rates could make or break their decision to list, with 41 percent saying it was a factor – though not the primary concern – in their decision, while 11 percent said it was a key issue.
Charlotte sellers are among those that are concerned about rising mortgage rates. High says her clients still worry about rising rates and the uncertainty caused by the federal government’s inability to find consensus.
Not addressed in the survey is buyer sentiment. The Realtors feel that Charlotte buyers are still very cautious coming out of the recession, a factor that many sellers do not recognize.
Redfin polled 466 homeowners across the nation from Jan. 15- 19.