Jennie's Market Intel - March 2024

Jennie Wetter March 15, 2024
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Springing the clocks forward is also what I believe to be the official start to the season of real estate "madness". (Some call it March Madness for college hoops, in our world it has a slightly different connotation.) Evening home tours and listing appointments are SO much easier in daylight :) Just like it mucked up the true celebration of Spring, the COVID years made a muck of all the typical "seasons" in real estate. Now that we have returned to some sense of normalcy in our lives, we anticipate a return to seasonal highs and lows in the real estate market.
That's not to say it's still not a WEIRD market. Sometimes you just have to call it out for what it is, and WEIRD is my "exceptionally eloquent" adjective :) Let the madness begin.
In last month's newsletter I mentioned that we were seeing an increase in the number of daily pending sales compared to new listings. This trend continued throughout the month of February, closing at a dramatic 74 Pending sales and only 128 Active Listings.
Note in the chart, the number of Active Listings has remained relatively constant December through Feb. However, the number of Pending sales has steadily increased. In February we had the tightest margin between Pending and total active listings, especially compared to the gap in October 2023 where we had just 62 pendings and 188 active listings. March data includes 31 pending sales to 3/10/24 compared to 120 listings... it will be interesting to see where the month ends up. Regardless, the trend is clear... more homes are selling than are coming on the market keeping our inventory tight.
How does this big increase in pending listings vs active relate to the average days on the market before a sale? This is an interesting trend I will continue to watch. The average days on the market went way up in 2023 as soon as the interest rates increased. They have been moderating since.
In the graph I've separated out the average days on market for all homes in Greater Gig Harbor, compared to Single Level homes. It's clear that Single Level homes are in the highest demand, as the DOM for ramblers is more than 20 days less than for all homes (including ramblers). (If I took ramblers out of the "all homes" stat, the gap would probably be much wider.
What does all this mean?
Average and Median sale prices in February 2024 were significantly higher than January 2024. That said, they jumped around in 23, being higher in the months before the interest rates ballooned to nearly 8% (late summer), The Median sale price in February 2024 was $764,000, higher than all but 2 other months in the past 12. I anticipate the prices are going to continue to move up modestly in the coming months - especially if the Fed lowers interest rates in the summer.
Buyers - If you are one of many hoping to find a single level home or at least a main floor primary suite, be patient, it's tough out there! Ramblers and Main Floor Primary suite homes in all price ranges go quickly due to the demand and you need to be ready. I know it's especially tough if you're out of town. Sellers have not embraced offer review dates again, at least not yet. This unfortunately means if you aren't able to jump on a home in the first couple of days you may not have the opportunity to offer. I hope to see the trend to offer review dates improving if the spring market demand continues.
Sellers - You're still in the driver's seat, but as I said before, the market is WEIRD. You cannot expect that your home will sell overnight even if indications are that it will. As the average days on market data shows, it can still take a couple of months.
Sellers, I will continue to drive it home... Presentation is EVERYTHING! A well prepped and presented house WILL sell the fastest and for the most money. Buyers don't have vision and they need to see well presented homes to fall in love. Some stats show professionally staged homes selling 88% faster and up to 20% higher than non staged homes. You can trust me and my team to guide you through this process to a most successful outcome.
I don't expect the "WEIRD" market to change dramatically any time soon. Most sellers are still sitting tight with their super low rate mortgages. Additionally, there is enough uncertainty in our overall economy, many would be sellers are just sitting tight.
Regarding cycles... it's an election year (in case you forgot). In election years, the real estate market tends to hit a big pause after July and sit tight until the election is over. If buying or selling in 2024 is in your plan, don't delay. The spring/early summer season is your best shot because we'll lose the typical post Labor Day fall push.
As one of the top brokers in Gig Harbor year after year, you can trust me and my team to help you achieve your goals. I can help navigate through this weird wavy market. We've got your backs all the way!

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