Is 'buyer's market' trend fading away?

Supply of homes for sale falls to lowest in 8 years

Published On: Mar 18 2013 11:39:49 AM EDT   Updated On: Mar 18 2013 03:37:29 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

If you're one of the many people house hunting this spring, be prepared for a market trend Realtors say they haven't seen in years.

"You've got to be ready to buy the day you look for a home, be prepared, get a pre-qualification already in hand," broker Howard Flaschen said. "So call a mortgage lender, a banker, and be prepared for that, armed and go in with the idea that you may find your home day one.

It's a thin resale market right now. The supply of homes for sale based on the pace of sales nationwide fell to 4.2 months, which is the lowest it's been in about eight years, according to the National Association of Realtors.

A six to seven month supply is considered balanced between sellers and buyers.

"It came fast. Eighteen months ago, two years ago, we really saw a pick up in what investors were buying -- lower-end homes under about $125,000," Flaschen said. "But, boy, things have changed. Anything up to $225,000 to $250,000 homes are selling within 24 to 48 hours of being on the market."

The number of homes that are listed for sale on the popular real estate website Zillow is down nearly 17 percent from last year. It's a reality Flaschen says many customers don't expect to hear.

"It's a difficult conversation, and a lot of times shocking," Flaschen said. "It's not something that we're used to. It's been so long where buyers have had their pick of the mill and could get whatever they want. So when we have to bear the news to them that it's not like that anymore, sometimes the first time out we look at five or six homes, they have to be ready to buy one."