In a surprising twist, the state of housing demand is suddenly strong

Vittorio and her family of five are hoping to get out of their rental and into a home of their own.

The rise in home prices has also slowed down. While prices in December were still up 4.7 percent annually, according to CoreLogic, it was the smallest gain in over six years.

“Higher mortgage rates slowed home sales and price growth during the second half of 2018,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “Annual price growth peaked in March and averaged 6.4 percent during the first six months of the year. In the second half of 2018, growth moderated to 5.2 percent. For 2019, we are forecasting an average annual price growth of 3.4 percent.”

That has some buyers on the sidelines, concerned they could buy something today that would be worth less tomorrow. Others see an opportunity.

“When you see those numbers coming down you want to go ‘OK this is the time buy.’ You certainly don’t want to buy at the top of the market,” said Dallas-area buyer Vittorio.

The share of homes with price cuts rose in January, according to Realtor.com, which likely led to the surge in buyers toward the end of the month. The pricier the local market, the bigger the cuts. In 39 of the 50 largest markets, the share of price reductions increased. Las Vegas saw the greatest jump, up 16 percent. It was followed by San Jose, California (up 9 percent), Seattle (up 8 percent), Orlando, Florida (up 6 percent), and Phoenix (up 5 percent).

Add that to lower rates, and suddenly agents are scrambling to list more homes, even before the spring market officially begins.

“I think they’re taking advantage of it, and we don’t want to miss that opportunity, so we’re trying to get busy with our listings too and start getting our listings on the market early,” said Barnett, the real estate agent.

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