National Housing Market Outlook

Real Estate Agents Can Predict Market Trends

Avery Blackman

Avery Blackman

May 2, 2024

Key Takeaways:

  • Rising resale home listings can be a misleading indicator of resale market health. According to our survey findings, agents’ sales expectations—which reflect concerns about listing quality—offer more reliable insights.
  • Real estate agents expect resale home closings to spike from March to May this year and begin to plateau in June and July.
  • Agents’ expected sales sentiments revealed in our surveys offer a forward-looking glimpse into housing market trends and potential resale activity four months into the future.

Where we are today: Low resale supply limits sales and drives prices.

The resale housing market, accounting for roughly 90% of annual housing transactions nationally, has faced significant supply constraints due to the elevated mortgage rate environment. With rates hovering near 7.5%, potential sellers are sitting tight and holding on to their existing low-rate mortgages rather than selling their homes (the lock-in effect).

While listings have ticked up in some markets, agents nationwide commented in our April Real Estate Agent Survey that 37% of their potential listings need repairs or updating. A New York City agent explains: “Despite a seller’s market, buyers are very picky. Move-in-ready homes priced relatively wisely go very fast. Homes needing repair do not seem to properly discount the needed repairs and sit on the market much longer.”

Therefore, an increase in listings should not be automatically interpreted as a reliable predictor of future resale home closings.

Rising buyer demand and competition for limited move-in-ready homes for sale continue to drive price appreciation higher nationally year-over-year (YOY), approaching +4%.

Forward-looking expectations: Real estate agents predict a peak and plateau in sales over the next few months.

With resale prices rising, agents were optimistic about the market’s future sales at the end of 2023. Expectations dipped in February 2024 and remained flat in March 2024, though they sat above sentiments from one year ago.

Our proprietary surveys provide timely and accurate qualitative trends that serve as reliable leading indicators for housing market trends. We release our early insights ahead of lagging conventional data, providing our Research members with huge competitive advantages in decision-making.

Our survey asks real estate agents to rate expected resale home sales over the next 6 months (Good, Fair, or Poor). Our analysis demonstrates that agents’ expected sales sentiment ratings align closely with actual home sales closings 4 months later, underscoring the predictive value of our surveys.

  • For context, the typical resale home process from contract signing through closing lasts about 60 days.

  • This time often extends to 3.5–4 months from signing the listing agreement, as the agent focuses on guiding the home seller through sprucing up the home, obtaining professional photographs, showings, and negotiations.

  • The sales volume an agent is experiencing when completing our survey likely influences their sales expectations (see graphs below). These sales are expected to close approximately four months after signing the listing agreement, reflecting the typical lag in the sales process.

In the graphs below, the “Sales Expectations” line represents real estate agents’ sentiment on sales direction over the next six months, while the “Existing Monthly Home Sale Closings” line portrays the collected raw data for home sale closings. The data shown is from January 2022 to March 2023.

For an easy comparison, these graphs portray “Good” sales sentiment at 600K monthly home sales closings nationally and “Poor” sales expectations at 0 monthly home sales closings nationally.

In the charted time frame, we discovered a strong positive correlation of 94% between sales expectations and home closings, meaning that as one increases, so does the other. In addition to directional shifts, the sales sentiment and closings scale at similar rates.

The first graph shows the agents’ sales expectations compared to existing monthly home sales closings in real time. The relationship is difficult to see until we compare it to the second graph.

The second graph shows the agents’ sales expectations compared to closings shifted backward by 4 months to show the correlation. For example, the data points for October 2023 show the expected sales sentiments reported by agents in that month and the nationally reported sale closings 4 months later, in February 2024.

The preliminary transaction data from John Burns Research and Consulting’s analysis of public records in March 2024 shows 324K existing closings nationally, following the expected trend in the second graph (shifted back 4 months, this would show as the November 2023 value). If this trend continues, we can expect existing resale home sales closings to grow over the next 2–3 months.

If you’re a real estate agent and want to stay current on market conditions, opportunities, and challenges, we invite you to participate in our monthly real estate agent survey. In exchange for participating, you’ll receive the survey results and earn gift cards. Please email surveys@jbrec.com for information and to receive the survey invitations.

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About The Author

Avery Blackman
Avery Blackman
Research Analyst II, Surveys
Avery supports JBREC’s monthly and quarterly report updates, as well as a few JBREC surveys. She analyzes our proprietary surveys, including Real Estate Agent Survey, Land Survey, Fix-and-Flip Survey, Builder Survey, and the Single-Family Rental Survey.

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