Market Moods highlighting Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Nashville, Baltimore
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Market Moods: Agent perspectives on home showings (are they really up?) 

ShowingTime's Showing Index found that home showings were way up in January over December. Are agents on the ground seeing the same trend?

March 12, 2023
4 minutes

Key points:

  • Agents in Baltimore, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis and Nashville markets weigh in on the pace of home showings.
  • While optimistic, agents didn't see any radical shifts in January, but some say showings are now picking up.
  • The usual suspects — interest rates and inventory — are limiting activity, and buyers aren't rushing into a purchase.

Editor's note: Numbers don't lie, but they don't always tell the whole truth. Market Moods looks at data from the perspective of agents across the U.S. the people who know what's really going on at the local level.

Home showings jumped way up in January, according to ShowingTime's Showing Index

The index posted the largest monthly increase in home showings for any January since the company began tracking the data, and showings were at their highest point since May 2022. The numbers were down year over year, but the monthly jump suggested buyers were ready to get back in the game in the new year.

A January uptick is not unusual, but to see it "after last year's rapid cooldown is significant," said Mike Lane, vice president of sales and industry for ShowingTime+. "January's home showings are a positive sign that buyers are getting back out there and the housing market is heading toward a new, more sustainable 'normal.'"

A majority of markets averaged between four and nine showings per listing, up from December's range of two to seven.

But what's the view on the ground as spring rapidly approaches? Agents are hopeful, but don't seem ready to pop the Champagne bottles just yet.

Buyers biding time in Baltimore

"I would say December and January were both quite slow this year," said Jennifer Bayne with Long & Foster Lake Roland. "It's getting better now."

Still, with interest rates up, buyers in Baltimore are taking their time. "When the rates were lower, they had to find something and capture that rate. Now they don't have that rate that they're chasing so they can be patient."

Bayne, who has been selling real estate since 2005, said though things are slow, "It's back to the traditional real estate market, where we get that lull in the winter time, but as spring comes we're seeing more listings and more showings."

A recent listing saw immediate action. "The sellers called to say the appointments are already coming through," she said. It's been on the market for a week and "I think we've had 15-20 showings already."

Weathering the market in Minnesota

"It's hard to say showings are up with such limited inventory," said John Holthous of Keller Williams Realty Integrity Northwest-Buffalo, MN. 

Holthous, who has weathered plenty of challenging markets in his 35 years in real estate, said unlike last year, mortgage fluctuations so far this year aren't fazing buyers. "I don't feel it's dramatically affected the showing activity. If buyers are in the market at 6%, they're still going to be in the market at 6.5%," he said.

But some of those buyers may have unrealistic expectations. "I just showed a buyer a townhome that I listed. Those people are looking for a steal," he said. "The market's had a big downturn and they expect a good deal."

Buyers like that may be disappointed. "With such low inventory, sellers are really still in charge of the market." 

High interest means less interest in Salt Lake

Bryan Hurd, an agent with the BHurd Team at Keller Williams South Valley in South Jordan, Utah, just outside of Salt Lake City, said a new year always brings out new shoppers. "There's always a little burst at the beginning of the year. When I noticed the spike was at the beginning of February."

Still, interest rates are making it harder to convert showings to sales. "America runs on a monthly payment and that's a major challenge," Hurd said.

Showings may be up, but "buyers are much more selective," he said. "I don't think they make decisions right away. When they do make decisions they're trying to make the best deal they can get."

And they have fewer options since more sellers are staying put. "I think 35% of the market is stuck in their house because of their interest rate," said Hurd.

Nashville embraces the new normal

Three markets — Seattle, Chicago and Nashville — saw more than a 50% spike in showings from December to January.

"It's definitely picking up," said Veronica Sims with VeeSellsNashville Group-RE/MAX First Choice in Nashville. "People are looking, and even though the rates are up, there still are buyers." As time goes on, she said, "they're seeing that the rate increases are a fact and they're never going to be 3% again."

And sellers, too, are coming to the realization that "they have to deal with what the market is and not what they saw in 2020, 2021."

With 35 years of real estate experience, Sims believes the Nashville market is "balancing itself out," and she's confident about the future. "People will get married. People will have babies. People will die. And all of those things real estate touches," she said.

"Real estate is here to stay."

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