March may be a pivotal month for local real estate. Inventory has remained fairly tight at all but the very top of the market. All price ranges except the lowest ranges have seen pressure go from hot to warm over the last 6-9 months. With interest rates creeping higher and inventory tight it seems we are in for a period of closer to neutral conditions in the price ranges above 120% of median.
Buyers are not as willing to take property as is as they were last year and sellers are showing a little bit of a willingness to soften prices in that upper half of the market. March can be a launchpad for the spring listing season if the weather is decent. Locally weather does seem to play a role in the listing count. If we have a typical March the question begging for an answer is this: How many new listings will come online, and how will they match up with new buyers?
If we see a large increase in inventory and buyers remain at the same levels I believe we will encounter a flattening in the price appreciation curve. Buyers will start to get rate hiked out of the market putting a little more pressure on sellers that have been enjoying a robust advantage over the last three years.
No one really knows exactly how much inventory will enter the market this spring, but March is a solid indicator of how the spring season will play out as the year rolls on. I am hoping for a bit more inventory than we had last year. Preferably not too much more as rising rates will thin the herd of buyers a little and we don't need prices to fall, just to ease off the throttle a bit. I get the feeling that is what we just might get.