Good News, House Hunters: More Homeowners Plan to Sell

A couple with a young child and a realtor look out a window in an empty room.
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An unusually large share of U.S. homeowners are planning to list their properties over the next year, according to a new survey, adding to evidence that there may be some hope for house hunters frustrated by the shortage of homes on the market.

Ten percent of homeowners plan to list within the next 12 months—25% more than in a typical year—according to the results of a Realtor.com/Harris X survey conducted in late March and released Monday. An additional 16% of homeowners said they’d likely list their homes in the next two or three years.

The housing market has roared during the pandemic, with ultra-low mortgage rates and a shift to working from home fueling far more demand for real estate than supply. The number of homes on the market has been so scarce, in fact, that the volume of sales actually declined in March for the second straight month. The shortages have created a frenetic buying environment, with fierce bidding wars triggering a surge in sale prices. 

“The information points to an improving landscape, where we can expect to see a rising number of homes come to market over the next few months, offering much-needed relief to homeowners looking for their trade-up home, as well as first-time buyers hoping for a moderation in price gains,” George Ratiu, senior economist at Realtor.com, wrote in a blog post about the survey.

The survey results reinforce other signs that the supply squeeze is easing: The decline in inventory in March was the smallest in eight months, according to Zillow, the online real estate platform. The results also signal more affordable inventory may be on the way; Nearly 60% of potential sellers (those planning to sell in the next year) said they’d list at prices below $350,000 (the national median is $347,500). And in another positive sign for buyers, mortgage rates that hit record lows this winter have started to fall again after several months of increases.

Most potential sellers already have taken active steps toward selling their home, with 76% saying they’ve made repairs to their home, cleaned and redecorated, researched home values, or contacted real estate agents. 

“However, even with this good news, we were in an inventory shortage, for both new and existing homes, well before the pandemic,” Ratiu wrote. “It is going to take a while for us to get back to a more balanced ‘normal’ even with an increase in new construction on the horizon.”

The survey of 3,998 U.S. adults was conducted online and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6 percentage points. There was an oversampling of 657 potential sellers.