Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Buyer Competition Heats Up: More Buyer Offers and Client Tours in August 2020

Buyer competition is heating up. In the latest August REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey, REALTORS® reported that, on average, properties for which the sale closed in August received about 3 offers, up from 2 offers one year ago and in March when the pandemic hit.

Line graph: Average Number of Offers Received per Sold Property, October 2015 to July 2020

REALTORS® also reported that on average, they took nearly 5 clients per month on a home tour, a recovery from the slump in April when buyer agents took out only 2.4 clients during the month. Meanwhile, on average, REALTORS® reported that on average, they listed 1.8 properties during August, or just 40% of the number of clients taken on a home tour.

Line graph: Average Number of Clients Taken on a Home Tour and Listings per Month per Agent, January 2018 to July 2020

Another statistic from the August survey that buyer competition is heating up: the REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index rose to 76 while the REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index was at 45. A value above 50 means stronger buyer or seller traffic compared to one year ago.1 All states reported stable to very strong traffic except in North Dakota and Illinois. North Dakota’s housing market is still impacted by weak oil prices: oil prices (West Texas Intermediate) have recovered to $43/barrel but are still below the average of $57/barrel in 2019.

Line graph: Home Buyers and Home Sellers, January 2019 to August 2020
U.S. Map: REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index

With demand outpacing supply, properties sold faster, with half of properties sold in 22 days during July and August, and 69% of listings staying on the market for less than one month (listing date to contract date). With intense competition, buyers have to be better prepared to make an offer, including already getting prequalified by a lender.

Line graph: Median Days on Market, May 2011 to July 2020

The best market signal of the intense competition is price. In August, the median price of existing homes rose to $310,600, an 11.4% year-over-year gain, with over 10% price appreciation across all major regions: Northeast (10.4%), Midwest (10.7%), South (12.3%), and West (11.8%).

Line graph: Median Existing-Home Sale Prices Year-Over-Year by Region, January 2020 to August 2020

1 About 4,000 REALTORS® responded to the question: In your market, how would you rate buyer and seller traffic in your market in the past month (August) compared to last year? Stronger? Stable? Weaker? A diffusion index value of above 50 means that a higher fraction of respondents reported “stronger” than “weaker” conditions.

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