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Existing Home Sales Soar in January 2016

January was a big month for existing home sales. The National Association of Realtors released their monthly existing-home sales report on Tuesday and the big news was rising home prices as well as strong sales.

Increased demand and short supply levels led to an 11-percent increase in sales and an 8-percent increase in median sales price year over year.

Nationally, sellers on ForSaleByOwner.com saw their median sale price jump to $219,000, above the national average of $213,800. ForSaleByOwner sellers also saw time on market drop to 40 days, 24 days less than the national average. These sellers also enjoyed an average savings of $14,663 with a home selling on the leading by-owner website every 38 minutes.

Regionally, the West was the only area to see a decrease in sales from December, down 4 percent according to NAR. The Northeast and Midwest both saw double-digit increases over the same period in 2015.

The by-owner sellers who benefitted most in January were those in the Midwest who had median sales prices 13 percent higher than the national average. These sellers also saw their time on market decrease to 35 days.

Sales of new homes decreased by 5 percent from January 2015 and were down a little more than 9 percent from the previous month. This continued the recent “see-saw” pattern of new and existing home sales trending in opposite directions.

With January home sales performing so well in advance of the spring selling season, 2016 is shaping up to be another big year for existing home sellers.

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Good Housing Market Brings More Willingness to Sell By Owner

As the peak home selling season drew to a close in August, indicators such as price increases, time on market and decreased distressed home sales point toward a “good” housing market. As seen in a recent ForSaleByOwner.com survey, these factors also indicate an increased willingness to sell by owner.

August 2014 Existing Home Sales
According to an August
report
, after four months of consecutive increases, existing home sales fell slightly for the month, down 1.8 percent from July. Despite the dip, August still saw 2014’s second highest seasonally adjusted annual rate with 5.05 million existing home sales, just behind July with 5.14 million.

The decrease in sales was due primarily to a decrease in purchasing from cash investors, who also helped to raise prices throughout the year as regular buyers attempted to compete with their cash offers to sellers. As good news to potential homeowners, this decrease will allow them an increased opportunity to purchase.

As a share of the total number of existing home sales, August saw the lowest levels of foreclosures and short sales since the market crash in 2008. Distressed sales reached single-digit numbers for the first time since October 2008 in July and August continued the decline with numbers reaching 8 percent.

Time on market was up slightly from July’s numbers with a median of 53 days compared to 48 days, a number that is still down
roughly 26 percent
from December 2013 when the number of days on market was up to 72. In August, roughly 40 percent of homes were on the market for less than a month.

Inventory levels remain at a healthy, competitive number. August saw 2.31 million existing homes available on the market, which at the current sales pace equals roughly a 5.5-month supply.

1 out of every 2 sellers are more willing to sell by owner in a good housing market
With August data consistent with what analysts could determine is a “good” housing market, we asked ForSaleByOwner.com customers to describe their willingness to sell by owner. Of eight hundred respondents, the majority (55 percent) said that a good housing market would make them more likely to consider selling by owner. Additionally, 37 percent of sellers stated that a good housing market would have no impact on their willingness to continue selling by owner while only 9 percent said that they would be less willing.

In addition to measuring the impact that the quality of the market would have on those selling by owner, the survey also asked sellers to provide further insight into how and why the market would impact their willingness.

Sellers stated that saving on commission fees and receiving increased exposure were driving forces in choosing to sell by owner. One respondent surveyed explained that by selling by owner, “I am doing most of the work as is and would not want to give that commission away. I also have more control over the process, which is a huge benefit.”

Justin Cyr successfully sold by owner in August with ForSaleByOwner.com sharing that, “I went into the process not knowing a great deal about the selling process, but with the site and all of the tips, I felt confident going forward. With the money saved by using ForSaleByOwner, I plan to increase the down payment on my new house!

To find out how you can sell by owner during a good housing market and save on commission fees while maximizing your exposure, visit ForSaleByOwner.com.

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Location Close to Public Transportation Can Help Sell Your Home

Thomas Nyle hasn’t owned a car in seven years. “Not since I was 28,” says Nyle, a computer programmer who specializes in academic material. “I was living in Manhattan in 2007, and I could take the subway everywhere I needed to go. And when I didn’t want to ride the subway say it was really late or the weather was really bad I’d take a cab.”

Although he was renting at the time, Nyle said he made the decision to eventually buy a place that had access to public transportation. “I realized I really didn’t need a car,” says Nyle. “If I had to live out in the country or somewhere in the suburbs, I’d probably need one, but I always wanted to stay within a large, urban area, so the country and the suburbs were out anyway.”

Nyle says his attachment to city living is based on his high school years, which he spent in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. “My parents split up, and my dad kept our house in the northern suburbs, which is where we all lived before the divorce. My mom and I moved in with her sister, who had a three-bedroom condo that overlooked the Lincoln Park Zoo,” Nyle says. “It was incredibly cool. I was this 14-year-old kid with my own room, right in the middle of one of the best neighborhoods in the country.”

Nyle went to Lincoln Park High School and DePaul University before heading to the East Coast for his first job. “I bought a car when I graduated and moved to a small town outside of Philadelphia,” he says. “I was miserable, having to drive to the center of Philly every day for a job I liked, but the commute was awful.”

When the opportunity to transfer to New York City became available, Nyle took immediate advantage of it. “I moved to Queens, then Brooklyn, then I eventually bought a studio in Greenwich Village,” he says.

When Nyle sold the studio last year on his own, he specifically targeted people who didn’t own a car or didn’t want to own a car. “You’d be surprised how many people respond to a housing listing ad if the first line says something like ‘Commuter’s Delight,’ he says. “I used that a couple of places. In other places, I used ‘No car? No problem’ as the headline.”

The idea, Nyle says, was to appeal to people with similar sensibilities, specifically that sensibility that deemed a car an inessential element of daily living. “I didn’t want to show my place to people who would ask about parking,” says Nyle. “I kept my car in a guy’s garage in Queens for $250 a month, but it wasn’t exactly an easy commute to get the car when I needed it. People living in New York pay ridiculous amounts of money for a space in the city, like $100,000 to buy a space. I didn’t want to deal with those people. I wanted the man who preferred the subway over a car.”

Or in Nyle’s case, the woman. “My buyer was a hardcore urbanite,” he says. “She was a teacher, and she told me she took the train, rode her bike and occasionally skated anywhere she needed to go, so my whole ‘No Car?’ message got to her.”

After testing her commute for three days she would start outside Nyle’s building and head to the school she taught at in Harlem, then return to his building after the school day ended the teacher made Nyle an offer. “Exactly what I asked for, which was $389,000,” says Nyle. “She told me she would never have a budget for a car, so she could pay more for her mortgage. Sounded good to me.”

After Nyle moved to a larger place a few blocks from his studio, he thought about the words of the new occupant of his previous place and came to a similar conclusion. “I was paying an obscene amount of money to store a car that I never used,” he says. “I cleaned it up and sold it on Craigslist within a week. Really, I don’t need it. Why bother hanging on to it?”

Read more: 6 Steps to Marketing Your Home

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What’s In Store For Home Sellers This Spring

As warmer weather starts spreading across the United States, look for the residential real estate market to emerge from its hibernation.

That’s the reassuring view from Eddie Tyner, general manager of ForSaleByOwner.com, one of several online services that help sellers bypass real estate agents and their 6 percent commissions. “Buyers who might have been reluctant to shop seriously during the unusually cold weather this winter will be out in force and searching for properties,” Tyner explains. “This pent-up demand will benefit all sellers.”

Tyner says he’s already seen evidence of buyer excitement. “In January alone, we saw a significant increase in visitors at ForSaleByOwner.com. Page views were up by more than 53 percent from December 2013.”

As buyer interest heats up, the housing market recovery of 2013 seems to be slowing down. The numbers should be viewed in terms of the bigger picture, Tyner says. Take for example Illinois.

“Although the Illinois Association of Realtors reports that the state’s January home sales fell 7.5 percent compared to the same month in 2013, and Chicago-area sales dropped by 8.9 percent, there is cause for optimism,” he says. Home prices already are regaining their strength. “That same IAR report shows that in January, the statewide median price was $136,950, a 9.6 percent increase from the same month a year earlier when it was $125,000.”

Seasonal market improvements also are beginning to bloom on the West Coast, where the California Association of Realtors reports that January’s pending home sales increased almost 23 percent compared to December. Active listings of all property types also posted gains in January.

This inverse relationship between home sales and home prices is motivating sellers to list their homes. “In most cases, the declining number of home sales is due to a lack of inventory, which drives home prices up. This puts existing homeowners who are ready to list at an advantage over everyone in the market,” Tyner explains. “According to the National Association of Home Builders, home builder confidence is down, and recent construction rates won’t meet buyer demand this season.”

And if homeowners decide to sell without a real estate agent, the rewards are twofold.

“By-owner sellers control their own selling timeline,” Tyner says. “By planning now to ensure their property is presented at its best, by-owner sellers will have a head start on agent-assisted sellers who decide at the last moment to enter the market.”

As Tyner points out, “There are already a lot of buyers looking for great homes, and there just aren’t that many options. It’s a great time to sell while there’s less competition for the attention of house hunters who are ready to buy now.”

A little curbside TLC and pricing strategy prep now will have sellers ready to roll out the welcome mat and entertain buyers through the spring and summer selling season.

We want to know: Are you planning on listing your home for sale this spring?