Here’s Why For-Sale Signs May Stay Scarce

Off the Charts: The Visual Says It All

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If you’re a house hunter waiting for more options to come on the market, don’t hold your breath. More people are planning to buy homes than sell them over the next year, a poll shows.

There was a growing gap between would-be buyers and sellers in September, with 15.8% planning to buy and just 12.5% planning to sell over the next 12 months, according to a Morning Consult poll released this week. Earlier in the year, the disparity between buyers and sellers had narrowed to something more balanced, but buyers have been pulling ahead ever since July, according to the intelligence company’s monthly survey of 2,200 U.S. adults. 

The shift in buying and selling intentions could help explain why the inventory of houses for sale dropped in September for the first time this year, according to the National Association of Realtors’ monthly report on home sales released this week. Low supply has been a hallmark of the pandemic’s unusual housing market, which has seen high demand for properties thanks to workplaces shifting to telecommuting. The ravenous appetite for homes, also fueled by near record-low mortgage rates, has led to rapidly rising prices, which, paradoxically, may be discouraging people from selling.

“If you’re selling a home, you’re probably going to buy somewhere else,” said Kayla Bruun, economic analyst for Morning Consult. “One reason could be sellers are looking at housing prices, and they don’t really want to pay as much as they’d have to in order to move.”

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