REALTORS® reported that seller traffic weakened in January 2019 compared to conditions one year ago. The REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index registered 42 in January 2019, according to NAR’s January 2019 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey. A level below 50 indicates more respondents reported weaker seller traffic than stronger seller traffic in January 2019 compared to one year ago. The index has never crossed the 50 level since September 2008.
Across the states, the REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index compiled from responses during November, December, and January 2019 was “weak” in many states (delineated at 25 to 45), except for Nevada, Idaho, Hawaii, South Carolina, and Florida where there was no change in seller traffic.
Several trends explain or are associated with the reluctance of homeowners to sell:
First, the number of movers has generally been on the downtrend since during 1985-1986. During 1985-1986, there were 46.470 million people who moved, or 20.2 percent of the population, and by 2017-2018, there were only 32.352 million movers, or 10.1 percent of the population. Comparing 2017-2018 with 2016-2017 data, there were 2.55 million fewer movers during 2017-2018 (32.352 million) than during 2016-2017(34.902 million), with the fraction of movers declining from 11 percent in 2016-2017 to 10 percent in 2016-2017.
The decline in mobility rates is also reflected in the lower turnover rate, or the ratio of existing homes sold to owner occupied housing stock. In 2005, there were nearly 10 houses sold for every 100 owner occupied homes. The turnover rate dipped to 4.8 in 2010 Q3 and was on the rise as the housing market recovered, peaking to 7.3 in 2017 Q1 and Q2. It has since fallen to 6.8 homes in 2018 Q3, as interest rates have increased.
In a monthly survey of REALTORS®, NAR asks respondents “Compared to the same month (January) last year, how would you rate the past month's traffic in neighborhood(s) or area(s) where you make most of your sales?” NAR compiles the responses into an index, where an index above 50 indicates that more respondents reported “stronger” traffic than “weaker” traffic. In generating the buyer traffic index at the state level, NAR uses data for the last three surveys to have close to 30 observations. Small states such as AK, ND, SD, MT, VT, WY, WV, DE, and D.C., may have fewer than 30 observations.
 Although an index of 50 represents no change, NAR delineated less than 25 as “very weak” and 25+ to 45 as “weak”, 45+ to 55 as” stable”, 55+ to 75 as strong” and 75+ as “very strong
 NAR has about 1.034 million members in the DC and 50 states. According to 2017 Member Profile, 65 percent were licensed as sales agents (exhibit 1-2), and 65 percent of sales agents were primarily in residential brokerage (Exhibit 1-4), and approximately 85 percent had seller clients (NAR RCI survey)