Homebuyers are spending less time house hunting: Redfin

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The total number of days that elapsed between consumers' initial home tours and their closing dates fell to the lowest level in at least six years this winter, according to Redfin.

From December 2018 through February of this year, buyers took 73 days to house hunt, down from 76 the previous winter, and from 2016's peak of 84. That's the fastest median search time seen since Redfin began tracking the metric.

With starter-home supply growing, borrowers have more options and fewer competitors to contend with, so they need less time to find something to suit their needs.

"This year, there are more homes for sale relative to the number of buyers, so a buyer is more likely to have their first offer accepted, while sellers are having to wait longer for their home to sell," Daryl Fairweather, Redfin's chief economist, said in a press release. "The housing market isn't as daunting for first-time homebuyers. If you put in a fair offer, there is a good chance that that offer will be accepted."

Interest rates falling since November, slowing home price growth, a decline in average mortgage processing times and savvier homebuyers also have contributed to quicker turnaround times.

"Typically, when I meet a buyer to start to visit homes in person and strategize how to win the right home for the right price, she has already been browsing homes for sale online for months, and is now ready to focus on a narrow band of neighborhoods or buildings," said Washington-area Redfin agent David Ehrenberg in the press release.

"They're only touring things that they think have a strong chance of liking and being able to afford. My buyers have an idea from their friends of what it takes to win a competitive offer, so they're more inclined to work with lenders that will give them a competitive edge, and include strong terms in their first offer, compared to buyers in years past."

Among cities, Philadelphia had the largest decline in median search time from the previous winter, dropping 28 days to 88. Houston followed with a decrease of 17 days to 75. Washington was next. The median search time there was 14 days shorter at 69 days.

The largest year-to-year increases in median search time were in Miami, where there was a gain of 17 days to 79, and New York, where the median home search was up by 13 days at 128.

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Purchase Housing market First time home buyers Mortgage rates Home prices Housing inventory Redfin