NEW YORK – Nov. 18, 2013 – Bidding wars in recent months have fueled large gains in home values in some parts of the country. But bidding wars and the buying frenzy seen just a few months ago seem to be cooling at a time when housing affordability has been reduced due to higher mortgage rates and home prices.
“The bidding wars were creating a false market,” homebuyer Mike Imgarten told Bloomberg about his two-month house hunt in Sacramento, Calif., area. “Now is a good time to jump back in and see where we’re at.”
Inventories have risen in many markets, leaving homebuyers with more options. The National Association of Realtors® reported that inventory levels of unsold homes rose in September from a year earlier – the first time since 2011.
More homeowners are seeing the return of equity (more than 2.5 million homes saw positive equity return in the second quarter alone), which has prompted more people to list their properties.
“We are shifting from a frenzy to where buyers are taking a step back and being more analytical and unwilling to just make rash decisions,” says Ellen Haberle, an economist for the real estate brokerage, Redfin.
Home sales typically slow during this time of year, but some analysts say the seasonal drop-off has been higher than expected. They blame the increase in mortgage rates for a lot of that drop-off. Since May, mortgage rates have risen a full percentage point, which has led to an increase in borrowing costs that is holding some buyers back, housing experts say.
The government shutdown also has weakened consumer confidence, says Michael Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at Arizona State University.
“The frenzy has died down,” says Selma Hepp, a senior economist for the California Association of Realtors. “The question in the summer of this year was, ‘is this sustainable, or is this a bubble again?’ Now the data is showing that we’re returning to more of a traditional market.”
Source: “Bid Wars Wane in U.S. Housing Markets on Supply Rise: Mortgages,” Bloomberg Businessweek (Nov. 14, 2013)