Low Inventory is Causing a Sellers Market

A low housing supply in the Atlanta metropolitan area worries real estate agents and buyers.

Redfin, a real estate brokerage in the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan area, has just released their new report that found that buyers in the fourth quarter (2013) continued to be frustrated by the slim pickings. If it meant winning a bid, most buyers were willing to pay more than the asking price and were willing to settle for less of a house than they were looking for.

The report consists of the results from a national survey of 468 real estate agents, including some in metro Atlanta. Redfin’s survey provides insight into a housing market that shows mortgage rates that continued to trend upward, rising home prices and tightening inventories.

Relative to the third quarter, more of the agents surveyed (56 percent versus 55 percent in the third quarter), including some in metro Atlanta, still thought it was a good time to buy a home. However, 63 percent of survey takers think sellers have “unrealistic expectations” about their property’s value.

According to 87 percent of agents, the biggest challenge was a large number of clients having to compete against each other for a house and a limited inventory. Broker at Better Homes and Garden Real Estate Metro Brokers, Ennis Antoine, is advising clients to be patient. “You have to understand there’s not a lot of inventory and when you find the home you want you have to give your best offer initially because there’s no haggling,” said Antoine. “You can’t bargain down.” Some buyers are settling for a home that is older than prefer or less of a house than they are accustomed to.

Compared with the six- to seven-month normal supply of homes in the Atlanta area, there is only a four-month supply of homes on the market, according to Metrostudy. Metrostudy’s Atlanta regional director, Eugene James said, “We’ve had an undersupply for quite a while.” In the second quarter of 2014, he expects listings to start picking up as homeowners start to see an opportunity for the return on equity.

Agents were also concerned that rising interest rates would limit home sales, the Redfin survey found. Of the 468 real estate agents polled, 39 percent think if rates exceeded 5.5 percent, home price growth and sales would suffer. This week, the average rate for a fixed 30-year mortgage in Atlanta rose to 4.63 percent from the previous week’s 4.54 percent. This time last year the rate was around 3.76 percent. The national average is 4.69 percent.

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