Local housing markets is a HousingWire magazine feature spotlighting housing trends across the country.
New York City, New York
In many ways the spring of 2022 marked the full return of New York City and for a real estate agent like Johnson Tsai, a lead agent at REAL, this meant a massive up-tick in rental demand. “We are typically super busy from March through August and sometimes even into October,” Tsai said. “This seasonal trend came back last year and then we had even more people mov-ing back who had left at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Things finally slowed down in November and I expect them to pick back up in the spring. It is still kind of a weird market, but it is going back to a little bit more normal.”
Tsai works with both homebuyers and tenants and while he says his business is typically split 50/50 between buyers and tenants, he has noticed a shift as mortgage rates have risen over the past six months. “Given the current market, my business is at least about 60% renters and the other 30% to 40% is buyers and sellers,” Tsai said. He also noted that he expects this ratio to continue in 2023 and the ratio of his business to potentially increase this spring.
On Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sarasota is the gateway to some of the state’s most famous beaches, including Lido Key and Siesta Key. The sugar-white sands of the local beaches have always been a draw for both tourists and prospective homebuyers, but according to lo-cal eXp Realty agent Sandy Williamson they have been enticing even more buyers than usual over the past few years. “A lot of people are moving here from other places,” she said. “They want to avoid state income tax and they don’t want to live in all that bad weather anymore.” Although Sarasota is on the coast, Williamson said the fact that it lies about 20 miles inland helps protect it from flood waters during hurricane season.
Williamson noted that the housing market slowed down in the fall, following typical seasonal trends. But, home prices were still up over 15% year over year, ac-cording to Redfin. As we head further into 2023, Williamson said she expects to see the usual increase in demand, but buyers are less optimistic than they were a year ago. “Buyers are a little scared because the majority of the people moving here are going to retire soon or are retired, so they may be living off investments in the stock market and that has been a bit touch and go lately, so I think buyers might be a bit more conservative in their budgets and look at getting a mortgage instead of paying cash for their home and having all their money tied up,” Williamson explained.
The Pacific Northwest and Seattle, in particular, get a bad rap for being perpetually overcast and constantly rainy, but Amy Breach, a local Keller Williams agent and member of The Hill Team, says that the stereotype isn’t accurate. “We have mild temperatures — it’s not too extreme in any direction and yet we have the beauty of all four seasons,” Breach said.
“Summers just come to life here. You can feel the energy shift during the summer when the sun is out and the whole city is just shining.” In addition to great weather, Breach also noted the wide variety of environments within a few hours of the city, from beaches, to mountains, forests and deserts. The area’s natural beauty as well as abundance of job opportunities has been attracting homebuyers to Seattle for years, and while many migration studies have noted that people have left Seattle for more affordable metros, Breach said that she has not noticed a major change in demand.
“There are always flocks of buyers from out of state and out of county.” Although Breach says the market cooled off recently as interest rates rose to some of their highest levels in decades, she said it had not turned into a buyer’s market and didn’t expect it to switch in the near future. “The market is more of a balance market now,” she said. “We have more inventory than we have had in years, and we have almost enough buyers to support that inventory.”
Marcia Ricchio, a RE/MAX Newport Elite agent, was surprised to find out that her market of Racine, Wisconsin, was one of the hottest housing markets in the country this past fall, according to Realtor. com. For Ricchio, the most challenging part of the housing market slowdown has been trying to bridge the gap between sellers, who are still expecting sky-high prices and multiple offer situations, and buyers, who are grappling with rising mortgage rates and mounting affordability issues.
Despite these challenges, Ricchio said homes that are move-in ready and priced right are still moving quickly and can still result in bidding wars. “We have to be a lot more diligent in pricing homes and getting sellers to understand that if they really want to sell, then my proposed price is a realistic number,” she said. “If they say yes and their home looks amazing, it is gone almost immediately.”
Located on the shores of Lake Michigan and between Milwaukee in the north and Chicago in the south, Racine has been attracting homebuyers looking for a bit more bang for their buck for years. “We have a downtown that is small but not too small with lots of activities and great restaurants, and then we also have the lake and some of the nicest beaches in the country — I just love this city,” Ricchio said.
Middlesex County, Connecticut
Including the Greater Hartford metropolitan area, Middlesex County is home to some of the largest cities in Connecticut, including Middletown, East Hartford and the state capital of Hartford. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Connecticut real estate market has witnessed somewhat of a renaissance after slowing to a near halt in the mid to late-2010s. “During the pandemic, a lot of New York residents wanted to get out of the city and just have more land for themselves and their families,” Michael Sklutovsky, a local eXp Realty agent, said.
“Connecticut is close enough to the city that they could still work in the city once things opened up, but it also had the benefit of being more rural. That combination brought a lot of more business to Connecticut.” Despite this upward momentum, market conditions in Connecticut have cooled in recent months as interest rates have gone up on top of typical seasonal trends. “February is usually my slowest month,” he said. “But I feel it will pick up in the summer like it usually does. Supply is still short, so I don’t expect prices to go down too much. It is still a good time to sell.”
This article was originally published in the February/March issue of HousingWire Magazine. Click here to read the full magazine.