Economists' Outlook

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REALTORS® Confidence Index: February 2020 Highlights

The REALTORS® Confidence Index (RCI) survey gathers monthly information from REALTORS® about local real estate market conditions, characteristics of buyers and sellers, and issues affecting homeownership and real estate transactions.1 This report presents key results about market transactions from the February 2020 survey.

Market Conditions and Expectations

  • The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index registered at 72 (55 in February 2019).2
  • The REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index registered at 47 (43 in February 2019).
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index—Six-Month Outlook Current Conditions registered at 75 for detached single-family, 62 for townhome, and 59 for condominium properties. An index above 50 indicates market conditions are expected to improve.
  • Properties were typically on the market for 36 days (44 days in February 2019).
  • Eighty-six percent of respondents reported that home prices remained constant or rose in February 2020 compared to levels one year ago (78% in February 2019).
Line graph: REALTORS® Buyer and Seller Traffic Indices

Characteristics of Buyers and Sellers

  • First-time buyers accounted for 32% of sales (32% in February 2019).
  • Vacation and investment buyers comprised 24% of sales (16% in February 2019).
  • Sales of distressed properties (foreclosed or sold as a short sale) accounted for 2% of sales (4% in February 2019).
  • Cash sales made up 20% of sales (23% in February 2019).
  • Twenty-one percent of sellers offered incentives such as paying for closing costs (10%), providing warranty (9%), and undertaking remodeling (3%).3
Graphic: First-Time Buyers as Percentage of Residential Sales

Issues Affecting Buyers and Sellers

  • From December 2019 – February 2020, 77% of contracts settled on time (76% in December 2018 – February 2019).
  • Among sales that closed in February 2020, 71% had contract contingencies. The most common contingencies pertained to home inspection (53%), getting an acceptable appraisal (44%), and obtaining financing (43%).
  • REALTORS® report “low inventory” as the major issue affecting transactions in February 2020.
Word cloud: REALTOR® Concerns

About the RCI Survey

  • The RCI Survey gathers information from REALTORS® about local market conditions based on their client interactions and the characteristics of their most recent sales for the month.
  • The February 2020 survey was sent to 50,000 REALTORS® who were selected from NAR’s more than 1.4 million members through simple random sampling and to 10,000 respondents in the previous three surveys who provided their email addresses.
  • There were 4,228 respondents to the online survey which ran from March 1–12, 2020, of which 2,033 had a client. Among those who had a client, the survey’s maximum margin of error for proportion estimates is 2% at the 95% confidence level. The margins of error for subgroups are larger.
  • NAR weights the responses by a factor that aligns the sample distribution of responses to the distribution of NAR membership.

The REALTORS® Confidence Index is provided by NAR solely for use as a reference. Resale of any part of this data is prohibited without NAR's prior written consent. For questions on this report or to purchase the RCI series, please email: Data@realtors.org.

1 Respondents report on the characteristics of their most recent sale for the month.

2 An index greater than 50 means more respondents reported conditions as “strong” compared to one year ago than “weak.” An index of 50 indicates a balance of respondents who viewed conditions as “strong” or “weak.”

3 The difference in the sum of percentages to the total percentage of sellers who offered incentives is due to rounding.

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