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REALTORSĀ® Confidence Index Survey: March 2019 Highlights

The REALTORS® Confidence Index (RCI)[1] survey gathers monthly information from REALTORS® about local real estate market conditions, characteristics of buyers and sellers, and issues affecting homeownership and real estate transactions.[2] This report presents key results about market transactions from March 2019. View and download the full report here.

Market Conditions and Expectations

  • The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index registered at 63 (73 in March 2018).[3]
  • The REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index registered at 46 (43 in March 2018).
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index—Six-Month Outlook Current Conditions registered at 69 for detached single-family, 57 for townhome, and 54 for condominium properties. An index above 50 indicates market conditions are expected to improve.
  • Properties were typically on the market for 36 days (30 days in March 2018).
  • Eighty-three percent of respondents reported that home prices remained constant or rose in March 2019 compared to levels one year ago (89 percent in March 2018).

Characteristics of Buyers and Sellers

  • First-time buyers accounted for 33 percent of sales (30 percent in March 2018).
  • Vacation and investment buyers comprised 18 percent of sales (16 percent in March 2018).
  • Sales of distressed properties (foreclosed or sold as a short sale) accounted for 3 percent of sales (4 percent in March 2018).
  • Cash sales made up 21 percent of sales (20 percent in March 2018).
  • Twenty-one percent of sellers offered incentives such as providing warranty (10 percent), paying for closing costs (9 percent), and undertaking remodeling (4 percent).[4]

Issues Affecting Buyers and Sellers

  • From January 2019–March 2019, 76 percent of contracts settled on time (78 percent in January 2018–March 2018).
  • Among sales that closed in March 2019, 72 percent had contract contingencies. The most common contingencies pertained to home inspection (53 percent), obtaining financing (40 percent), and getting an acceptable appraisal (39 percent).
  • REALTORS® report “interest rate” and “low inventory” as the major issues affecting transactions in March 2019.

About the RCI Survey

  • The RCI Survey gathers information from REALTORS® about local market conditions based on their client interactions and the characteristics of their most recent sales for the month.
  • The March 2019 survey was sent to 50,000 REALTORS® who were selected from NAR’s more than 1.3 million members through simple random sampling and to 10,000 respondents in the previous three surveys who provided their email addresses.
  • There were 4,146 respondents to the online survey which ran from April 1-10, 2019. The survey’s overall margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is one percent. The margins of error for subgroups and sample proportions of below or above 50 percent are larger.
  • NAR weighs the responses by a factor that aligns the sample distribution of responses to the distribution of NAR membership.

The REALTORS® Confidence Index is provided by NAR solely for use as a reference. Resale of any part of this data is prohibited without NAR’s prior written consent. For questions on this report or to purchase the RCI series, please email: Data@realtors.org


[1] Thanks to Gay Cororaton, Research Economist for their data analysis and comments to the RCI Report.

[2] Respondents report on the most recent characteristics of their most recent sale for the month.

[3] An index greater than 50 means more respondents reported conditions as “strong” compared to one year ago than “weak.” An index of 50 indicates a balance of respondents

who viewed conditions as “strong” or “weak.”

[4] The difference in the sum of percentages to the total percentage of sellers who offered incentives is due to rounding.

March 2019 Existing-Home Sales

  • NAR released a summary of existing-home sales data showing that housing market activity this March, fell 4.9 percent from February 2019. Despite February’s gains, sales of existing-homes dropped 5.4 percent from March 2018. March’s existing-home sales reached a 5.21 million seasonally adjusted annual rate.

  • The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $259,400 in March, up 3.8 percent from a year ago. This marks the 85th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

  • Regionally, all four regions showed growth in prices from a year ago. The Midwest had largest gain of 4.6 percent followed by the West with a gain of 3.1 percent. The Northeast had an increase of 2.5 percent followed by the South with an incline of 2.4 from March 2018.
  • March’s inventory figures are up from last month 3.1 percent to 1.68 million homes for sale. Compared with March of 2018, there was a 3.2 percent increase in inventory levels. It will take 3.9 months to move the current level of inventory at the current sales pace. It takes approximately 36 days for a home to go from listing to a contract in the current housing market, up from 30 days a year ago.

  • From February 2019, all four regions showed declines in sales. The West had the biggest dip in sales at 7.9 percent followed by the West with a decline of 6.0 percent. The South fell 3.4 percent followed by the Northeast with the smallest drop of 2.9 percent.
  • All four regions showed declines in sales from a year ago. The West had the biggest drop in sales of 10.7 percent followed by the Midwest with a decline of 8.6 percent. The South fell 2.1 percent followed by the Northeast dip of 1.5 percent. The South led all regions in percentage of national sales, accounting for 43.8 percent of the total, while the Northeast had the smallest share at 12.9 percent.

  • In March, single-family sales were down 4.9 percent and condominiums sales were down 5.3 to last month. Single-family home sales fell 4.7 percent and condominium sales were down 11.5 compared to a year ago. Single-family homes had an increase in price up 3.8 percent at $261,100 and condominiums rose 3.6 percent at $244,400 from March 2018.

The Silent Generation: Downsizing Homes & Joining Senior-Related Housing

The Silent Generation, buyers aged 73 to 93 years, made up the smallest share of buyers by age at only seven percent of all home buyers in 2018. The median age for this group was 76 years old and they were born between 1925 and 1945. They tended to have the smallest families; 96 percent of these buyers had no children living at home under the age of 18 years and they made up the same share of single female buyers as Younger Boomers at 25 percent. Of the generations, buyers 73 to 93 years bought fewer multi-generational home at 13 percent. For those that purchased a multi-generational home, the reason was for the health and caretaking of aging relatives at 13 percent.

The Silent Generation had the smallest share of first-time home buyers at only four percent, which was expected for their age group. Correspondingly, they made up the largest share to move directly from a home that they owned at 82 percent. They also had the lowest median household income at $69,600, likely living off retirement funds. They managed their finances accordingly and bought homes with the second lowest median home price at $243,000. They also purchased some of the newest homes last year with a median year of 1996.

Buyers aged 73 to 93 years also bought new homes at 14 percent and wanted the amenities of new home construction communities (23 percent). These buyers were the most likely to purchase a duplex, apartment, or condominium at nine percent, or a townhouse at 10 percent. They were also the most likely to buy a home in senior-related housing at 29 percent. These buyers wanted a home convenient to friends and family (47 percent) and for the convenience to shopping (34 percent). They were the least likely to buy homes in an area for the quality of the school district, convenience to schools, or for the convenience to a job. They were also the least likely to compromise on the condition of the home (16 percent). The Silent Generation also bought frequently in a rural area at 23 percent.

The age group of buyers 73 to 93 years were the highest share among the generations to purchase for the desire to be closer to friends and family (27 percent) and for a smaller home (17 percent). They had an expected tenure in the home at a median of 10 years. They were the most likely to move due to a household member’s health and least likely to want a larger home.

Tom Dant 
Broker

Dant Realty, LLC
Phone: 240-476-8512
Fax :    240-387-6153
Email:  tom@tomdant.com

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