Thursday, August 3, 2023 / by Marvin Centura
Even though the housing market is no longer experiencing the frenzy that was so characteristic of the last couple of years, it doesn’t mean today’s market is at a standstill. In actuality, buyer traffic is still strong today.
The ShowingTime Showing Index is a measure of how much buyers are touring homes. The graph below uses that index to illustrate buyer activity trends over time to help put today into the proper perspective.
It shows there’s seasonality in real estate. If you look at the last normal years in the market (shown in gray), there was a consistent pattern as buyer activity peaked in the first half of each year (during the peak homebuying season in the spring) and slowed as each year came to a close.
When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, that trend was disrupted as the market responded to the resulting uncertainty (shown in blue in the middle). From there, we entered the ‘unicorn’ years of housing (shown in pink). This is when mortgage rates were record-low and buyer demand was sky high. Similar seasonal trends still existed even during that time, just at much higher levels.
Now, let’s look at 2023. Traffic is down from the previous month and it’s also lower than the peaks we saw in the ‘unicorn’ years. But what’s happening isn’t a steep drop off in demand – it’s a slow return toward more normal seasonality. As the ShowingTime report explains:
“Showing traffic declined about 10% in May . . . This follows a typical seasonal pattern – disrupted by the pandemic but now beginning to return . . .”
And, to highlight this isn’t a drastic decline, let’s zoom in. Here’s a graph using just the May data for the last five years. It shows just how strong buyer demand still is.
What Does That Mean for You?
Buyers are still out there touring homes. They’re more active than they were in May 2022 (when sticker shock over higher mortgage rates started to set in) and certainly more than they were in the last normal years. So, remember, buyer activity is still strong. And it could actually be even stronger if it wasn’t constrained by the limited supply of homes for sale. According to U.S. News:
“Housing markets have cooled slightly, but demand hasn’t disappeared, and in many places remains strong largely due to the shortage of homes on the market.”