Across the country, houses for sale are staying on the market longer than they were a year ago. Not here, though.
In metropolitan Rochester, where houses are selling faster than in any other large metro nationwide, the median time from listing to sale last month was 15 days—two days fewer than in July 2022.
When Jamie Columbus put her Brighton home up for sale, it didn’t take nearly that long. She listed the house on a Thursday and had a buyer Sunday night.
In fact, she probably could have sold the house even more quickly. However, Columbus, CEO and broker with Judy’s Broker Network, used the same technique she employs with clients who want to sell their home.
“It’s a four-day process from the time I list the house till I sell the house,” she says. “I have showings, open houses, all the marketing extravaganza during the four days, and then (by) Sunday night or Monday, I’ll take offers on the property. It’s a delayed negotiation; it’s very organized process.”
Columbus notes that she’s “always had extremely low days on market—one of my hashtags is 24-hour sales power because we prepare hard and sell easy.” However, she says “other agents are selling homes more rapidly than they have in the past because it’s a seller’s market.”
Among the 50 largest metros in Realtor.com’s monthly housing market trends report, the typical house spent 39 days on the market in July, eight days more than a year earlier.
After Rochester, the metros with the fewest median days on market in July were Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, Conn., 23; Columbus, 25; and Milwaukee-Waukesha, Wis., 29. In Buffalo-Cheektowaga, the median time on market was 38 days.
A year ago, Rochester’s median time on market also ranked No. 1 among the nation’s large metros. The reason why it has maintained this ranking also is unchanged: lack of supply.
“We’ve had extremely low inventory, so there’s a crunch,” Columbus says. “We will have 25 families come through an open house and we could have another 25 or more showings on a property. The fact of the matter is, only one family is going to get that house.”
Columbus and her firm specialize in “haute couture” homes, high-end properties that often are mansions.
“A lot of our clients are relocating executives, doctors, and everybody is 100 percent prepared, even before they get here,” she notes. “All of their financing is lined up. This is a market where most of my clients are cash clients.”
Columbus says tight inventory exists at all prices levels and across the Rochester region.
“Time on market is lower through a larger area now,” she says. “As you go further out, Pittsford, Mendon, all the way out, even those houses are being affected by having higher bids and fewer days on the market. It’s pretty universal.”
In the first half of the year, there were 17,800 new listings, down 16.6 percent compared with the same period in 2022, the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors noted in its second-quarter report.
“The Rochester real estate market remains constrained by a lack of available homes for sale,” Mike O’Connor, GRAR president, noted in the report. “Opportunities for buyers will remain limited for the near future until more homeowners are ready to put their homes on market.”
One factor that has put a damper on transactions and is keeping some possible sellers on the sidelines: higher mortgage rates. On Aug. 17, the U.S. weekly average for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was 7.09 percent—the highest level since April 2002.
“It seems that many homeowners who may otherwise consider a move are staying put because they have a very favorable mortgage rate of under 4 percent,” says O’Connor.
In July, Realtor.com reports, active listings here were down 12.5 percent year over year and new listings were off 4.4 percent.
Rochester’s median listing price in July was $259,000, up 10.5 percent compared with a year earlier. Nationally, the median listing price was $440,000, down 0.9 percent year over year. Of the 50 large metros Realtor.com includes in its monthly report, only Cleveland and Pittsburgh had lower median listing prices.
The share of homes labeled price reduced nationwide was 15.5 percent; in Rochester, it was 8.8 percent. The Hartford, Conn., area had the lowest share of price-reduced listings, while Buffalo-Niagara ranked third and Rochester was sixth lowest.
While low inventory likely explains why homes sell so quickly in Rochester, it’s hardly unique to this area. The lack of newly listed homes has contributed to a renewed inventory crunch nationwide, Realtor.com notes. Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group agrees.
“An extremely limited number of existing homes available for sale continues to be the defining feature of today’s housing market,” the ESR Group wrote in its latest report. “While total home sales remain near the lowest annual level since 2009, this is not due to lack of demand. Rather, the ongoing lack of inventory, the extent of which exceeded the ESR Group’s earlier expectations, has resulted in significantly stronger home price appreciation than previously anticipated.”
In the 12-county Greater Rochester market, GRAR reports, there 12,273 closed sales in the second quarter, down 19.6 percent from the second quarter of 2022 but up from the first quarter, which saw 23.9 percent fewer closed sales than the same period last year. In Monroe County, closed sales totaled 2,527, a 16.9 percent drop from a year earlier. The median sales price was $227,250, up 9.5 percent.
Columbus has a message for homeowners who have hesitated to put their house on the market.
“Anybody who wants to sell a house, this is like a phenomenal time,” she says. “You may hear things about the interest rates are high, the economy is uncertain, political instability. (But) the fact of the matter is that there’s a significant pool of buyers waiting for a home.”
Limited supply continues to translate into higher selling prices here. Columbus sold her own home for $15,000 over its $800,000 listing price.
“If somebody asks a reasonable price, they may get over listing,” she says. “The most successful sales are the ones that are asking a very reasonable market value.”
Paul Ericson is Rochester Beacon executive editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].