A happy young Black real estate agent holds her phone and a cup of coffee while on the go.

Agent optimism up as new listings surge 

A national survey of 1,900 real estate agents found that most are anticipating a good market in the coming six months.

March 14, 2024
3 minutes

Key points:

  • A new report from John Burns Research and Consulting found that agents are more optimistic about the market than they have been since March 2022.
  • The majority of agents in the Southeast, Northwest, Midwest, Texas and Florida were feeling positive about the market going into the spring and summer months.
  • A separate report from Redfin highlighted another reason for optimism: New listings are up 13% year-over-year, which could get more buyers into the market.

While home sales were stymied by inventory shortages and volatile mortgage rates last year, agents are feeling more optimistic about 2024, a new report from John Burns Research and Consulting indicates. 

Of the approximately 1,900 agents surveyed in January, researchers found that the majority — 55% — expect good home sales over the next six months, while 37% expect a "fair" market and only 8% said they expected the market to be "poor."

Researchers noted that this was the most optimistic agents have been since March 2022 when 58% of agents surveyed also expected a good market in the coming months. 

Things are looking rosy in the Southeast — not so much in California

Agents in the Southeast reported the highest levels of optimism, with 64% expecting a good sales market in the next six months while only 3% expected a poor market. More than 60% of agents in Texas and the Northwest were positive about the market, while 50% agents in Florida and 54% in the Midwest were also optimistic. 

Sentiment was up even as many agents reported that current home sales — at least at the time they were surveyed in January — were sluggish. Roughly 50% or more of the agents in 7 out of the 9 regions surveyed said current home sales were weaker than normal. 

That was especially true In Northern California, where a whopping 71% of agents reported experiencing a weak market. In Southern California, 55% of agents said their sales were weak. The report noted, however, that both Northern and Southern California markets have some of the highest multiple-offer activity. But competition is fiercest in the Northeast, with nearly half of the agents in that region reporting a multiple-offer situation in the last month. 

One likely optimism booster was a trend cited by many agents: Buyers have been coming back to the market — and are now more determined to purchase a home.

"Even though inventory is still low, because rates are lower than the last couple of months, buyers are coming off the sidelines," an agent in Milwaukee noted, while an agent in Boise observed that "buyers who had previously been on the sidelines seem to be jumping back into the market."

A surge of listings could motivate buyers

In a separate report from Redfin on housing inventory and buyer sentiment, researchers found that new listings have increased 13% year-over-year — the biggest gain since June 2021. 

The metros seeing the largest bumps in inventory were San Jose and Phoenix, both of which saw a 30% gain. New listings were also up by 25% or more in Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Jacksonville. 

However, even as more listings come on the market, home prices continue to rise. Both the median sale price of $371,750 and median asking price of just under $400,000 are up by 5% year-over-year, Redfin reported. 

But just as agents told John Burns researchers that buyers were coming back to the market, Redfin researchers also see a window of opportunity for prospective homebuyers in the coming weeks. 

"Buyers who can afford to may want to get serious about their home search now, as housing costs are unlikely to fall anytime soon," Redfin Economic Research Lead Chen Zhao said in the report. 

"The uptick in listings should be another motivator for buyers: There's more to choose from, and improving inventory may bring out more competition from other buyers as we get further into spring."

Get the latest real estate news delivered to your inbox.