How to Tell the Difference Between a Seller’s Market and a Buyer’s Market

difference between a seller's market and a buyer's market

When it comes to buying or selling a home, knowing whether you’re in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market can make a big difference. It’s like understanding the weather before planning a picnic; it helps you prepare and make the best decisions.

“In a balanced market, homes sell at their market value in 60 days on average.”

National Association of Realtors

So, let’s dive into what makes these markets tick and how you can spot the signs.

Quick Summary

  • Definition of Buyer’s Market: More than three months of housing inventory. And less than 25% of new listings going pending in the first 30 days of hitting the market.
  • Definition of Seller’s Market: Less than three months of housing inventory. And more than 35% of new listings going pending in the first 30 days of hitting the market.
  • Key Indicators to Watch: Inventory levels, population growth, job growth rate, access to capital, interest rates, and how quickly homes sell.
  • Neutral Market: Recently considered 3-4 months of inventory. And 25-35% of new listings going pending in the first 30 days.

What is a Buyer’s Market?

What is a Buyer’s Market? Video

In a buyer’s market, the power is in the hands of those looking to buy homes. This scenario occurs when there is more than three months’ worth of housing inventory available, or when the sales intensity indicator is at 25% or lower.

Here’s why that matters:

  1. Supply and Demand: When there are plenty of houses available but not enough buyers, sellers are more willing to negotiate prices. This is based on the fundamental economic principle of supply and demand.
  2. Indicators of a Buyer’s Market:
    • High Inventory Levels: A lot of homes are up for sale. Inventory levels of four months or higher are a strong indicator.
    • Slower Sales: Homes take longer to sell.
    • Price Drops: Sellers may reduce prices to attract buyers.
    • Population and Job Growth: Slower growth can lead to fewer people looking to buy homes.
    • Interest Rates: Higher rates can make borrowing more expensive, reducing buyer interest.
    • Sales Intensity Indicator: If the sales intensity indicator is at 25% or lower, it signals a buyer’s market.

Current Inventory Level

Below is a graph of the current inventory level for the entire NWMLS. That encompasses almost the entire state of WA. It shows the closed inventory level for the past 3 years on a monthly basis.

How to Tell the Difference Between a Seller's Market and a Buyer's Market

How to Recognize a Seller’s Market

What Is A Seller’s Market? Video

Conversely, a seller’s market is when there is less than three months of housing inventory. In this situation, the advantage shifts to the sellers. Here’s how you can tell if it’s a seller’s market:

  1. Limited Supply: Few homes are available for sale.
  2. High Demand: More buyers are competing for fewer homes, often driving up prices.
  3. Quick Sales: Homes sell quickly, sometimes with multiple offers.
  4. Price Increases: Sellers can often get more than their asking price.
  5. Economic Indicators: Strong job and population growth can boost demand for homes.
  6. Interest Rates: Lower interest rates can increase buyer demand by making mortgages more affordable.

The Concept of Neutral Market

A neutral market, where neither buyers nor sellers have a distinct advantage, typically falls between three to four months of inventory. It’s a balanced market where supply meets demand more evenly.

Real-World Examples

For a real-time look at the market conditions in specific areas, you can check out the latest reports:

These reports provide updates on key indicators of the health of the real estate market, helping you stay informed about current trends.

Why Understanding Market Types Matters

Knowing whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market can help you:

  • Make Informed Decisions: Whether buying or selling, knowing the market can help you strategize better.
  • Plan Financially: Understand what you might expect in terms of pricing and negotiations.
  • Negotiate Effectively: Use market conditions to your advantage in negotiations.

Final Thoughts On The Difference Between a Seller’s Market and a Buyer’s Market

In summary, recognizing whether you’re in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market is crucial for making the best real estate decisions. Remember to keep an eye on inventory levels, market indicators, and local housing reports.

If you’re wondering about the current value of your home, you can use our home pricing tool to get an instant estimate. Understanding these market dynamics can help you navigate the buying or selling process with confidence.

Stay informed, and happy house hunting or selling!

Share this post!

About the Author

Jason Fox

Facebook Twitter

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." ~ Gandhi [ Recognized as a top 3.5% agent in the United States. ] [ Jason Fox was born in Everett, WA currently lives in the Meadowdale neighborhood in Lynnwood and has lived in different parts of the Puget Sound area in between. He has been in the real estate industry for 20 years in many different capacities. From General Manager of a real estate CRM engagement business, Founder of 2 real estate marketing agencies, nationally recognized blogger with the Jason Fox Real Estate Marketing Blog, Marketing Manager for a top title and escrow service. ] [ Jason is now an award winning residential real estate sales agent, Co-Founder of The Madrona Group, Co-Owner of John L. Scott Ballard and John L. Scott Westwood. ] [ Active in the community, Jason is a proud part of the Autism Speaks effort to raise awareness for autism. This project is very dear to him as he has an 8 year old son, Hudson, diagnosed ASD. Jason is also involved with Neighbor's in Need, the Forgotten Children's Fund, WELD Seattle and the Union Gospel Mission assisting the homeless population in the greater Seattle area. ] [ "My passion is being able to give back to the community that has given so much to me." ] [ When he is not assisting his friends and family with the services of home ownership he loves being a dad to his 4 children, Carter, Rowen, Tyler and Hudson and being a husband to his amazing wife Sarah. Hiking, working around the house, cheering for the Seahawk's, Mariners and Huskies and golfing. ]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *