Three key indicators show that negotiating clout is beginning to shift from a home seller’s market, with tight inventories, to a more balanced market of buyers and sellers across the United States with plenty of inventory in all price ranges, according to HouseHunt, an online resource for community information and home listings.

The first indicator shows a decrease in the ratio of buyer-seller activity from 3-to-1 last spring to 2-to-1 in September, still with more buyers than sellers. Accordingly, inventories of unsold homes have grown from a very tight/limited supply last spring to a more balanced 50-50 ratio currently in many markets.  

The second indicator is time on the market. HouseHunt reported that the time from listing to sale is now almost evenly split between 0-30 days and 30 days or more. Last spring, members reported 0-30 days on the market by almost a 2-to-1 margin.

The third indicator of a more balanced housing market is the stabilization of selling prices as a percentage of asking/listing prices. HouseHunt reported that two out of three home sellers are now getting 95 percent to 100 percent of asking prices. Last spring, more than half of sellers got 100 percent or more, often as a result of multiple offers. 

Sales activity across the U.S. is now almost evenly divided between first-time and repeat/move-up buyers, the HouseHunt survey shows. Bearden attributed the surprisingly high first-time-buyer activity to historically low mortgage interest rates and multiple financing options despite strong price appreciation of homes in the past two years. Existing-home sales in the U.S. are expected to set another record in 2004.

HouseHunt’s observation is based on exclusive “Current Market Conditions” sales data reported by HouseHunt’s Exclusive Agent Referral Network (EARN) members in 47 states. Results of this unique national survey are updated quarterly.

HouseHunt Inc.’s numerous Internet sites – Househunt.com, HomeValueHunt.com and Move-Up.com – offer consumers free information on local communities, free online access to listings, free online sales data on recent home sales in their neighborhoods, free electronic property-matching (where available), buying and selling information, and access to top producing Realtors.

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