Economists from realtor.com are forecasting a lively housing market in January, saying they expect a surge in the number of home buyers looking for properties online.
One of five of the largest metros saw their highest number of listing views online in January 2019, realtor.com’s report notes. The analysis is based on average monthly views per listing on its site from 2015 to 2019.
Times have changed over that period: In 2015, the peak month for average views per listing on realtor.com was in April, and January was behind by 16% in views. However, in 2019, the month of January was just 1% lower than February for the most monthly views per listing at realtor.com. Further, January was the most popular month for views in 20 of the 100 largest metros, the analysis notes.
Seattle saw the greatest increase in home shopping in January 2019. It had views per property that were 32% higher than its next highest month. The other markets in the top five that saw the most buyer activity online in January 2019 were McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas; San Francisco; Atlanta; and San Jose, Calif.
"As shoppers modify their strategies for navigating a housing market that has become more competitive due to rising prices and low inventory, the search for a home is beginning earlier and earlier," says George Ratiu, realtor.com’s senior economist. "With housing inventory across the U.S. expected to reach record lows in 2020, we expect to see this trend continue into the new year."
Still, economists note that just because January could prove to be a popular month for house hunters, don’t discredit the spring months. “Realtor.com data shows that views per listing used to ramp up into spring, but now competition starts high in January and stays high,” the real estate listing site notes.