By Peter Ricci
Nearly six in 10 respondents to the latest Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council (REBAC) survey reported higher buyer interest in 2012, a 34 percent increase from 2011 and one of the strongest signifiers yet of greater demand in real estate.
What's more impressive, the number of agents who reported fewer buyer inquiries in the last year dropped by nearly half, from 29 percent to just 15 percent.
There was an additional (and interesting) nuance to REBAC's survey, one that executive director Marc Gould actually did not draw attention to in his RisMedia article on the survey. REBAC asked its members for the top issues that prevented buyers in their local markets from completing a purchase, and for 2012, the top three were obtaining financing (49 percent of respondents), problems selling their current homes (43 percent) and economic security (50 percent).
For the first time in three years, though, "holding out for lower prices" was not among the top three reasons, a telling sign of how far home prices have gone since 2011. After early signs of stabilization in April, index after index has reported positive trends for prices, and finally last month, the Case-Shiller, the most influential index of all, went positive, and analysts are closely watching its next release on July 31.
Both findings are consistent with what Nancy Iliffe, an agent with Shelton and Stewart Realtors in South Miami and Master Brokers Forum member, is seeing in her neck of the woods.
"[Agents] knew in January, 'Okay, prices will not go down anymore,' and it took buyers six months to realize that," she said.
Even though buyers are still looking for the best value around, Iliffe said they no longer operate under the impression that a property will sell for more than 30 percent off its original asking price.
And buyer interest, she added, is also much higher, something she has observed up close in several of the open houses she had conducted in recent weeks. Buyers now sense that housing has finally hit its bottom, Iliffe said, and though general economic concerns are still holding some prospective buyers back, she suspects many of them will enter the marketplace once the election season passes.