Yes, it may still be winter, but the real estate market has started with an early thaw.
Real estate agents report that phone calls into their office have increased in number since the doldrums of the holiday real estate market.
Open houses have been well-attended. A recent open house on our new listing was busy from the moment the door opened, until closing. Buyers were not only looking at the house, but talking about their plans to purchase. This represents a change from the general outlook during 2011, when buyers were more hesitant to express their desire to purchase, and seemed more "on the fence" about buying a home.
FreddieMac recently came out with their January 2012 Economic Outlook. You can read the pdf version here.
While those who make predictions are hedging their real estate bets, the home buyers we are talking with have an optimistic outlook on their home buying prospects. Historically low interest rates and lower home prices certainly are contributing to this positive feeling. Also, buyers are feeling more "settled" in their jobs.
Sellers may see an increase in activity. Indeed, one of our recent new listings received multiple offers within the first week of marketing. We encourage sellers to take a hard, realistic look at their listing price before putting their property on the market. We find that sellers who are pricing their homes more in line with the marketplace, without an extra "pad" in the price, are creating an encouraging signal to home buyers.
Yes, it's a winter thaw. Let's hope the real estate market continues to bloom in spring, and heat up in summer!