Bidding wars – the scourge of buyers – slowed in August

The bidding wars that put smiles on the faces of sellers and simultaneously drove buyers to rip their hair out weren’t as frequent in August, according to the latest report from brokerage Redfin.

In August, 58.8% of offers written by Redfin agents faced a bidding war, down from the peak in April of 74.3%, and below the August 2020 bidding war rate of 59.4%.

But buyers shouldn’t get too excited. The report attributes this decrease to the normal seasonal slowdown, causing the shortage of inventory to slow as well.

Another indicator of a slowing market cited by Redfin is the percentage of homes that sold above list price. During the four-week period that ended Sept. 5, it dropped to 50% from a peak of 55% in July. Despite these obvious signs of a slowing market, Redfin states that it is in line with the typical seasonal decline.

“Sellers are still pricing their homes very high, but a lot of buyers have had enough and are no longer willing to pay the huge premiums they were six months ago. Instead of 25 to 30 offers on turnkey homes, we’re now seeing five to seven,” Nicole Dege, a Redfin real estate agent from Orlando said in a statement.

Raleigh, NC had the highest bidding-war rate of the 48 U.S. metros listed in the report, with 86.7% of offers written by Redfin agents facing competition in August. San Francisco/San Jose at 70.7%, Tucson, Arizona at 70.5%, Cincinnati at 70.4% and Salt Lake City at 68.1% rounded out the top five toughest markets for homebuyers.

On the filp side, Charleston, South Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Sarasota, Florida and Oklahoma City rounded out the five most favorable cities for buyers, with bidding war rates of 43.5%, 42.9%, 42.9%, 41.7% and 35.7%, respectively.

“Sellers remain in control, but the next month or two will be very telling,” Stacey Delgado, a Redfin agent in Raleigh said.

In 2018-2019, total housing inventory was in the range between 1.52 million and 1.92 million, and that level of inventory helped to drive real home-price growth in 2019 into negative territory briefly. Existing home sales during those years stayed in the monthly sale range of 4.98 million to 5.61 million homes, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Then the pandemic hit, and after eight months of consecutive gains spanning 2020 and 2021, the consequences of low home inventory finally caught up with the housing market in February 2021.

An earlier Redfin study found that all-cash buyers improved their chances of winning a bidding war by 290%.

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