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Why 15.7% of Home Contracts Canceled in August 2023 – Tom’s Take 341

In August 2023, the real estate world experienced a surprising trend – a whopping 15.7% of purchase contracts were canceled. This figure, revealed by a recent Redfin study, has raised eyebrows among industry experts and left both buyers and sellers wondering what’s going on in the housing market.

So, what’s causing this surge in canceled contracts, and what can you do to avoid being caught in the turmoil? Let’s dive into the reasons behind this phenomenon and explore some valuable tips for potential buyers and sellers.

Sticker Shock:

One significant factor contributing to canceled contracts is what I call “sticker shock.” Buyers are getting a reality check when they lock in high monthly payments due to increasing interest rates and rising sale prices. In today’s competitive markets, where multiple offers are the norm, some buyers are swept up in the frenzy, offering much more than the asking price. However, once the dust settles and the ink dries on the contract, they might start second-guessing their decision. It’s not uncommon for buyers to ask themselves, “What have I gotten into?” and back out of the deal. Sticker shock is a real concern, and it’s affecting affordability as monthly payments and purchase prices climb.

Lower Buyer Demand:

Another contributing factor is the decline in buyer demand. Compared to the feverish buying activity seen during the pandemic, demand has now returned to pre-2019 levels. This decrease in demand means more options for buyers as competition eases. The number of pending sales has stabilized, showing an 18.1% drop from 2022 to 2023. While home sales have slowed down, the good news for buyers is that inventory is gradually increasing, presenting more choices. This shift in the market dynamics allows buyers to consider different properties and take their time making decisions.

Increased Inventory:

2023 has witnessed the highest number of homes available in the market throughout the year. The growing inventory is giving buyers a bit of a wandering eye. With more options to choose from, buyers might explore other homes before committing. This abundance of choices can create a buyer’s market, especially when combined with the stabilization of pending sales. The more inventory grows, the less competitive the market becomes.

So, what do these trends mean for both home sellers and buyers?

For Sellers: Consider pricing your property strategically. Instead of aiming too high or too low, price it just right, aligning with the expected market value. Analyze active listings, pending sales, and recent sales to determine this value. Pricing it correctly can attract more potential buyers, increasing the chances of multiple offers and a successful sale.

For Buyers: Don’t give up on the market, especially in the fall season. As more homes become available and competition decreases, you may find opportunities that were previously out of reach. If a property you’re interested in comes back on the market because the previous buyer had second thoughts, seize the chance. This is your time to make a move in the real estate market.

In conclusion, while the rise in canceled home purchase contracts might seem alarming, it’s essential to understand the underlying reasons and adapt to the changing market conditions. Sellers can benefit from pricing their properties right, and buyers should stay vigilant for opportunities in this evolving real estate landscape. As the market dynamics continue to shift, informed decisions will be the key to successful transactions.

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