From 2015-2018, April was the peak month for viewing listings on realtor.com. All of that changed in 2019, as January became the busiest month on this marketplace site in 20 of the largest 100 metro markets around the country.

This trend for kicking off home searches in January essentially began in cities such as New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Denver and San Jose. Now, in 2020, this trend is taking off like wildfire in other cities as well.

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According to realtor.com’s senior economist, George Ratiu, “As shoppers modify their strategies for navigating a housing market that has become more competitive due to rising prices and low inventory, the search for a home is beginning earlier and earlier. With housing inventory across the US expected to reach record lows in 2020, we expect to see this trend continue…”

Realtor.com’s most recent data indicate that the number of for-sale homes has dropped -9.5%. For-sale homes priced below $200,000, the market segment with the highest demand, has dropped -16.5%. Such inventory declines, of course, lead to broad home price increases, especially on the lower end of the market, according to the CoreLogic Case Shiller Home Price Index.

Melissa Fuentes, an Atlanta-based agent, is already experiencing first hand this consumer push towards January in starting home searches. “I’ve gotten at least 30, maybe 30% more phone calls already to start home searching in January. It’s a race out here, so it’s either they get started fast or they wait until the actual spring market and they miss out on all the inventory.”

Fuentes added, “At this point, we’ve having to search several properties. I’ll take a client to maybe 10-15 homes, homes even outside their price points, due to increased competition.

Thanks to CNBC’s Diana Olick and realtor.com for source material.

Also read: Crystal Ball Gazing for Multi-Family Housing in 2020, What Are Homebuyers’ Top Concerns?, Help Your Clients Become Real Estate Investors in 2020