The National Association of REALTORS conducts surveys of REALTORS each month to establish their percieved outlook on the market based on their dealings with consumers every day. The following is the results of the October 2014 survey.
REALTORS®’ assessment of market conditions indicate flat market activity in October 2013 compared to September and a year ago. The REALTOR® Confidence Index-Current Conditions for single family homes and the Buyer Traffic Index registered near 50, a level that indicates an equal number of respondents with “strong” and “weak” outlook.
REALTORS® reported on market conditions. Properties stayed longer on the market, typically at two months. First-time home buyers continued to account for less than a third of the market. Home purchases for investment purposes were steady compared to September but weaker than a year ago. Sales of distressed properties continued to be on the downtrend. REALTORS® continued to report that obtaining financing is a challenge for many buyers and that the loan approval process has become protracted, in many cases exceeding 30 days. The effective increase in insurance payments for FHA-insured loans has also put a financial strain on borrowers. REALTORS® also reported the lack of “affordable” and “good” houses on the market. Obtaining FHA financing for condominiums that are the entry points for home ownership has also remained a challenge.
Buyer traffic remained at about the same pace in October compared to September but slower compared to a year ago. The Buyer Traffic Index registered at 43 in October (44 in September 2014; 56 in October 2013). Seller traffic remained broadly “weak” with the Seller Traffic Index at 38 ( 39 in September 2013; 43 in October 2013). An index below 50 indicates that more REALTOR® respondents viewed traffic conditions as “weak” compared to those who viewed conditions as “strong.”
Obtaining financing and the lack of “affordable” homes were reported as the major constraints to homebuying. In coastal areas, uncertainty about the flood zone insurance rates continued to weigh down the market.
Approximately 27 percent of REALTOR® respondents reported that their last transaction was a cash sale (24 percent in September 2013; 31 percent in October 2013). The share of cash sales has declined from an average of about 30 percent. This appears to be tied to the decline in the share of purchases for investment purposes as well as the decline in share of sales of distressed properties.