Competition Cools Again as Washington Drama Deters Buyer Interest

Competition over home inventory declined in September for the sixth straight month, according to numbers reported by Redfin agents across 22 markets.

Redfin’s Real-Time Bidding Wars report shows 58.3 percent of offers written by Redfin agents across the country faced bidding wars in September, down from 60.5 percent in August. Last September, 62.7 percent of offers faced competing bids.

Competition peaked at 76 percent in March.

Bidding wars declined the most in Orange County, dropping from 81.8 percent of offers facing competition in August to 72.2 percent in September. Some markets, on the other hand, saw competition heat up, including Boston (where 70.1 percent of offers were bid against), Chicago (42.7 percent), and Seattle (57.0 percent).

With competition diminishing, Redfin has also observed a fall in the number of homes selling at above asking price. On average across all tracked markets, buyers paid 0.4 percent below asking price (compared to 0.3 percent in August). San Francisco and Seattle were the only two markets where sale prices averaged higher than asking prices, at +7.3 percent and +1.4 percent above asking price, respectively.

Over the next few months, the brokerage expects bidding wars will soften more than usual while the country shakes off the impact of Washington’s shutdown.

“During the shutdown, Redfin agents reported that furloughed government employees in several of Redfin’s markets, particularly in the D.C.-area, stepped back from their home search because of uncertainty over when they would receive their next paycheck,” said analyst Ellen Haberle.

Non-government employees were similarly shook up by the possibility that the government might not have been able to reach an agreement before defaulting on debts. Even with a deal having been reached, Haberle said the company expects to see competition fall off more than usual.

“Congress’ October 16 deal, which funds the government only through December 15 and lifts the debt ceiling through February 7, probably will sustain buyer jitters and leading bidding wars to drop more than they otherwise would during the holiday season,” she said.

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