All across the country, real estate agents are posting positive signs of change from the trenches and revealing they’re suddenly dealing with packed open houses and intensifying bidding wars.
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By now, the narrative about the housing market is familiar to everyone: Mortgage rates shot up in 2022, tamping down demand for new loans and new homes.
Much of Inman’s coverage from last year focused on this shift, and industry discussions — both in media coverage and at gatherings such as the recently wrapped Inman Connect New York — have zeroed in on how to thrive in a slower market.
But in just the past few days, there have been hints of a change.
In fact, some industry professionals have indicated that they’ve begun to see packed open houses, multiple offers on homes, and a market that seems to be growing. That doesn’t mean conditions are back to their pandemic highs, but at least in some markets agents are seeing what they’re describing as a new “shift.”
One of the first hints that landed on Inman’s radar came just days ago, when Century 21 President and CEO Mike Miedler spoke to Inman for an Inman Intel piece on NAR membership. During the conversation, Miedler mentioned that one of the agents at his company held an open house the previous Saturday where more than 100 people packed in.
Soon, similar stories were pouring in on social media, and particularly TikTok. In Raleigh, North Carolina, Davis & Main agent Pearl Tucker posted on Wednesday that in her area “open house traffic is through the roof.”
Tucker also said in her post that “stale listings are getting sold. New listings are experiencing multiple offer situations.”
Stories about multiple offers are particularly common on social media right now. Last week, for example, Washington-based mortgage loan originator Ashley Zierer recounted a client’s experience of unexpectedly ending up in a bidding war.
“The real estate market is changing just as quickly as it did last year,” she concluded.
Texas-based real estate agent Ashley Chapa shared a similar story on TikTok. She said that her clients wanted to see a house 48 hours after it was listed. They scheduled a showing, but by then the house already had 13 offers.
“The Austin housing market has shifted,” Chapa said in her video.
Ashton Fae, an agent in Marysville, Washington, said she experienced something similar. In a TikTok post, she shared an image of an ordinary looking house that after two days on the market received five offers.
“Bidding wars are back,” she said, adding that buyers should move now before the spring market intensifies.
The list could go on.
Here, for instance, is an agent from Minnesota saying that multiple offer situations are coming back.
And here’s an agent from Arizona making a similar point, adding that “popular homes are, well, popular.”
Here’s yet another agent, this time from Chicago, saying a shift is beginning.
And here’s a mortgage officer from Maryland, who posted on TikTok to say that “It’s going to be a really insane real estate market soon, and in some places it is already crazy.”
In the end, there were so many videos in this genre that Inman could only bookmark so many before getting overwhelmed.
What’s notable about the videos is that they’re coming from all over. Agents are talking about shifts and bidding wars in the West, the East, the Midwest and beyond. And while most folks discussing the topic have noted that housing hasn’t fully rebounded from its 2022 lows, the conclusions about the market’s trajectory are remarkably similar: Things appear to be going up.
Obviously, the videos included above are anecdotal, and don’t represent a hard data-driven look at the market. And there are indicators that there is still trouble. Mortgage rates have cooled somewhat, but are still far above their mid-pandemic low points. Layoffs in the real estate industry, including 250 job cuts this week, continue. The number of agents in the industry appears to be going down.
But there is also data to support the thesis from TikTok that a shift is underway. Last week, for example, Redfin reported that the “housing market has started to recover” and specifically pointed to the return of bidding wars in some markets.
“Homebuyer demand remains down from its early 2022 highs, but the market has shifted into a new phase and well-priced listings are selling quickly,” Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr wrote in the report.
Additionally, ShowingTime reported this week that the fall off in-home showings appears to be slowing down, and that in some places showing traffic is actually now going up.
Finally, the Fed on Wednesday approved its smallest interest rate hike in nearly a year and signaled that it may be close to wrapping up its year-long rate-hike campaign — which largely drove the market shift of 2022. The move potentially gives mortgage rates room to ease this year.
It remains to be seen what will happen in 2023; in January of 2022 few predicted the massive rate hikes to come. Nor did most observers anticipate the severity of the market shift. Anything is possible.
But the key takeaway at this point is that, as recent social media posts indicate, numerous agents in the trenches are beginning to see an undeniable change in the housing landscape.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Marr concluded in his report for Redfin, “but homebuyers are coming off the sidelines.”