Homebuyers have been through the wringer this past year. They’ve faced sky-high prices, epic bidding wars, and a historic shortage of properties for sale. But if they wait just a little bit longer, they may be able to get an edge in this cutthroat housing market.
The best time to purchase a home will be the first full week of October, according to a recent Realtor.com® report. Experts are predicting an additional 100,000 sorely needed homes could go on the market in the week of Oct. 3–9. And these properties could be cheaper than they were over the summer, when families desperate to nab something before the school year snapped up whatever they could find.
However, in some of the larger metropolitan areas, the best time to buy could be the week of Sept. 12–18. Real estate experts predict that’s the case in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Minneapolis, Denver, and Portland, OR.
“Buyers who think that now is the time to buy should get ready,” says Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “You’ll get a better-than-average price, more options to choose from, and homes that don’t sell as fast as they did in the heat of summer.”
The report was based on an analysis of Realtor.com home listing data going back to 2018. It included looking at list prices; the total number of homes for sale; the number of newly listed homes coming on the market; how quickly homes are selling; homebuyer demand measured by the number of listing views; and price reductions.
An increase in residences for sale would be a welcome shift, as the housing shortage is fueling the high price growth and bidding wars. The number of properties for sale was 26% lower in August than one year earlier.
But in a more normal year, there is a roughly 7% increase in the number of active home listings during the first week of October compared with a typical week. Economists are expecting to see a similar rise in inventory hitting the market during that week this year. That could translate to about 700,000 homes going up for sale in October, giving buyers more choices.
“Our expectation is this year will be closer to normal than last year,” says Hale. “Last fall, we saw this frenzy due to a missed spring homebuying season. This year the pandemic is still a factor, but we’re seeing more regular seasonal trends.”
Even better, buyers may be facing less competition in early October. Demand is projected to die down by 18% from the summer peak and be about 6% lower than an average week.
If there are fewer buyers, prices could slip 2.6% from the summer high. That could save buyers thousands—if not tens of thousands—of dollars depending on the home and the market.
Plus, some sellers might be incentivized to reduce the price of their homes. Traditionally, about 7% of listings have experienced price cuts during that first week of October.
In addition, home shoppers may have a bit more time to make up their minds. In August, homes sat on the market a median 39 days—about 17 fewer days than a year earlier. During the first week of October, homes might sell a little slower.
That doesn’t mean buyers will have an easy time securing a home during this week.
“Even though this is a better week than most to be shopping in the housing market, it’s still fairly competitive,” says Hale. “But it’s probably a bit less competitive now than it was in the spring or the summer.”