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Home Sellers Hesitant to Take on New Mortgages

Home sellers are facing new market dynamics this spring after two red-hot selling seasons in 2021 and 2022, during which prices soared and inventory fell. As of March 2023, home prices were still up 7.8% compared to the previous year, though price growth slowed for the ninth month in a row and homes took longer to sell.

Both home sellers and homebuyers are in a tough spot this spring as low buyer demand means homes sit for longer and low affordable inventory means more homebuyers are struggling to participate in the market. More than 85% of sellers surveyed were planning to buy a new home at the same time as selling. This makes selling a complex choice, requiring many homebuyers to buy into a higher mortgage rate.

More than three-quarters of home sellers feel ‘locked in’ to their current home due to a low mortgage rate. More than half of sellers surveyed plan to wait until rates come down before selling, while 25% plan to sell soon for personal reasons, despite feeling locked in.

The vast majority of Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X owners surveyed feel locked in by their current mortgage rate, with 97%, 87% and 87% of owners citing this feeling. However, a third of Gen X owners, the largest share for any generation, plan to sell anyway for personal reasons, despite feeling locked in, perhaps because they have lower amounts of outstanding debt. On the flip side, among baby boomers, who likely have the least debt, a majority reports not feeling locked into their current home by a low interest rate.

Owners who are planning to sell cite the potential for a profit, changing family needs, or desire for different amenities are their top reasons for considering a home sale. The youngest generation surveyed, Gen Z, cites affordability and proximity to family as their main drivers.

Despite the challenging housing market, 85% of home sellers are happy with the amount of equity they have in their home. Three-quarters of home sellers estimate they have over $100,000 of equity in their home, and 42% estimate more than $200,000 of equity. Meanwhile, homeowners have a near record-high level of equity in their home, positioning them well for a home sale.

The hot 2021 and 2022 markets ushered in a new normal with bidding wars, fast sales and offers over asking being more commonplace. As a result, even in today’s market, more than a quarter of sellers expect a bidding war, 31% expect to get more than the asking price, and 37% expect to have an offer within a week while less than half (42%) expect to sell for the asking price.

Despite the cooler market, 35% of potential home sellers surveyed expect homebuyers to be willing for forego contingencies and 34% expect an all-cash offer. These expectations are generally higher than potential home sellers held in August 2022, heading into the end of the year when high mortgage rates took a bite out of market momentum.

For home sellers hoping to put their best foot forward in today’s market, it is important to offer a well-maintained, well-priced home. Though the market this spring will be affected by ongoing affordability challenges and low inventory, homebuyers will be eagerly looking for move-in-ready homes at fair prices.

As the Best Time to Sell nears, home sellers can attract buyer attention as new listings remain scarce compared to last year.

To read the full report, including more data, charts and methodology, click here.

About Author: Demetria Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for DS News and MReport magazines with more than eight years of writing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is an avid jazz lover and likes to read. She can be reached at [email protected].

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