Virginia REALTORS® conducts surveys of members to gather on-the-ground information on the state of the real estate industry and the experiences of real estate professionals across Virginia. These “flash surveys” have covered topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of technology in real estate transactions, and landlord-tenant issues, among others.
Housing market activity rebounded this summer. While there is uncertainty in the overall economic recovery, housing appears to be on solid footing this fall. Virginia REALTORS® administered an online survey of its members to see what REALTORS® are experiencing in their day-to-day business. The input provided by REALTORS® is valuable for helping us to understand where the market is headed this fall.
The online survey was administered to members between September 24 and September 27. A total of 770 members responded to the survey. In addition to the specific survey questions, nearly half of respondents provided additional comments on what they are experiencing in their business.
Expectations for the Fall Market
While home-buying activity has been strong this summer, there are potential challenges in the housing market as we head into fall. According to Virginia REALTORS® members, a lack of inventory is far and away the biggest challenge. When asked about the one biggest constraint on the housing market, nearly 9 out of 10 respondents said it was insufficient inventory. Issues related to COVID-19 restrictions, homebuyers who cannot qualify for a mortgage, problems with appraisals, and unrealistic expectations about market conditions were listed by just a few members as being the primary constraint on the market.
Last year, the number of home sales in October statewide increased over the September sales totals. However, in other years, October sales activity slowed compared to September. More than half of Virginia REALTORS® who responded to this survey (52.1%) say they expect that their business in October will be about the same as it was in September. About 29% expect October to be slower than September and 19% are looking ahead to a busier October.
More than 300 respondents provided us with additional information about how their business is faring this fall. Comments ranged from concerns about a lack of inventory to questions about the impact of the election to observations about the typical fall and winter slowdown in the market. Overall, more than half of the comments provided were classified as “positive.” About 13% were classified as “neutral,” and 36% were classified as “negative.”Survey respondents were asked to look ahead six months and predict what business will be like for them. Nearly all respondents said they expect they will still be in the real estate business in six months. Nearly half (45.3%) say they expect that they will be as busy as they are now, while about a quarter (26.1%) say business likely will be slower. However, another 26.7% of respondents say they expect that in six months their business will be even busier than it is now.
Below are a few quotes from Virginia REALTORS® members that reflect the perceptions of survey respondents:
“[Business] is going great! As long as interest rates stay down we will be gold!”
“It was a crazy summer, sales volume was way ahead of the previous year. But now this fall the exuberance has abated a bit, sales are slowing down slightly.”
“Our inventory is so low, listing is are selling same day”
“I haven’t had a closing but have written plenty of offers. Someone always outbids my clients or waives inspections and appraisals. Any potential sellers I have don’t want to list because they have nowhere to go.”
“The lack of inventory…is disturbing. I have 10+ well qualified buyers with nothing to show them. If inventory increases, my business will greatly increase. I also only have one active residential listing right now and at the beginning of 2020 I had at least 6.”
“Several potential seller/buyer clients have gotten excited about jumping in the market because of low interest rates, but quickly reversed strategy, saying they trust rates will stay low after the election and deciding they don’t want to overpay or be rushed into ‘settling.’”
“Many folks are worried about…politics and the election…Many are expecting a real estate devaluation coming and [want to] cash out now.”
“I am concerned about the market in the next 6 months. I keep hearing that there will be foreclosures and short sales because of forbearance loans coming due. I am staying positive and hopeful that this is not an issue.”