Economists' Outlook

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REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey: December 2019 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 December 2019.

Market Conditions and Expectations

  • The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index registered at 60 (48 in December 2018).2
  • The REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index registered at 43 (39 in December 2018).
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index—Six-Month Outlook Current Conditions registered at 71 for detached single-family, 58 for townhome, and 55 for condominium properties. An index above 50 indicates market conditions are expected to improve.
  • Properties were typically on the market for 41 days (46 days in December 2018).

Eighty-four percent of respondents reported that home prices remained constant or rose in December 2019 compared to levels one year ago (75% in December 2018).

Line graph: REALTORS® Buyer and Seller Traffic Indices January 2008 to April 2009

Characteristics of Buyers and Sellers

  • First-time buyers accounted for 31% of sales (32% in December 2018).
  • Vacation and investment buyers comprised 17% of sales (13% in December 2018).
  • Sales of distressed properties (foreclosed or sold as a short sale) accounted for 2% of sales (2% in December 2018).
  • Cash sales made up 20% of sales (22% in December 2018).
  • Twenty-two percent of sellers offered incentives such as paying for closing costs (11%), providing warranty (9%), and undertaking remodeling (3%).3
Graphic: First-time buyers as percentage of residential sales

Issues Affecting Buyers and Sellers

  • From October 2019–December 2019, 71% of contracts settled on time (75% in October 2018–December 2018).
  • Among sales that closed in December 2019, 72% had contract contingencies. The most common contingencies pertained to home inspection (55%), obtaining financing (45%), and getting an acceptable appraisal (42%).
  • REALTORS® report “low inventory” and “interest rate” as the major issues affecting transactions in December 2019.
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 December 2019 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 8,097 respondents in the previous three surveys who provided their email addresses.
  • There were 4,425 respondents to the online survey which ran from January 1-11, 2020. The survey’s overall margin of error at the 95% confidence level is 1%. The margins of error for subgroups and sample proportions of below or above 50% are larger.
  • NAR weighs 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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