Buyers are gaining the upper hand in the housing market as top real estate CEO warns sellers


The U.S. housing market is now tilting in favor of buyers, who are pushing back against the high home prices that sellers are demanding, according to Compass cofounder and CEO Robert Reffkin.

He told CNBC on Wednesday that 30% of the inventory on the market has seen a price drop, which is more than anytime in last 10 years. Meanwhile, the market has seen 16% more inventory.

“It is a different environment. We are now seeing more sellers than buyers,” he said.

Reffkin said there have been more price cuts in the South, which had seen steep increases earlier as Americans left more expensive states during the pandemic.

Florida’s housing market has also been hit by a spike in home insurances costs, which have soared 40% year over year and are weighing on asking prices, he explained.

“Sellers bringing their homes on the market during this period need to be aware of how buyers are pushing back,” Reffkin said. “If your home is well priced in this environment, it will sell quickly. But if it’s not, it will sit on the market. Then you’re going to have to have a price drop. Then buyers will see they get a price drop. The sharks come out, and it will hurt you even more.”

Buyers at the high end of the housing market have also been bolstered by recent stock market gains, he told CNBC.

While the surge in mortgage rates earlier this year combined with high home prices to further erode affordability, that’s less of a concern for buyers enjoying the wealth effect from their investments.

“You don’t need lower mortgage rates if your stock portfolio is at an all-time high,” Reffkin said.

His comments follow a report released earlier this month that showed Texas and Florida dominated the best places for buyers in Zillow’s new market heat index, which takes into account the share of homes that have an accepted offer from a buyer within 21 days or fewer, the share of homes that have a price cut, and engagement with active listings on the website and app

“Would-be buyers who witnessed intense competition in sunny Texas and Florida markets earlier on in the pandemic aren’t seeing such a frenzy now,” according to Zillow.

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman has also sounded optimistic about the housing market in the latter half of 2024 after hitting “rock bottom” in the first quarter.

But that outlook depends on rate cuts from the Federal Reserve, he cautioned, warning that sales could slow or even decline without any.

For now, he’s not ready to “have a party here and drink a bunch of champagne,” Kelman said. “It’s just a little bit better, it’s a little bit better—and that’s worth noting.”

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