Buyers Are Back But What Does that Mean for You?

Typically, I always say that Super Bowl Sunday is the unofficial start to the real estate season. By then, holiday hangovers have long faded and buyers and sellers are ready to make their real estate goals a reality. 

However, it’s not true for 2024. 

This year, the real estate market launched to life earlier than ever – like last week earlier. Once that second week of January hit, the market sprang back into action, and we watched as it happened with absolute delight and glee (for our clients). We had just improved the price of one of our properties that had been on the market for some time and as soon as we did that it went into multiple offers and now it’s in escrow. The home was in the $4 million+ range, which tells me that buyers in the higher price ranges, the same buyers who sat on the sidelines for much of last quarter, are back in the game. 


Interest rates played a huge factor in this return, and lower rates are by far the biggest news in the real estate market right now. 

‘OK,’ you’re thinking. So buyers are back and interest rates are down. ‘What does this mean for me?’

Glad you asked. 

If you’re selling your home this year, don’t wait to put your house on the market. I have two clients with homes they’d like to list, and they’re both getting their houses ready right now. Traditionally, the most popular time of year to sell is going to be April and May (the springtime selling season) but if you wait until spring, you’re going to face a lot more competition. As we’ve seen with our own listings, there are definitely buyers hungry for new properties right now, so if you can get your house photo-ready in time (or maybe you’re lucky enough to have a house that’s photo-ready today), do it. There’s no point in waiting. The advantage you have as a seller is to list earlier and catch the Q1 buyer demand before other sellers do.

If your home is already on the market, one option is to “reboot the listing,” which basically resets the clock for your days on market. We rebooted a recent listing, which we’d held open in late December and saw two people strolling through the open house. Last Sunday, we had 15 people at our open house! It just shows you that even for a previously marketed property, interest is strong.

A note of caution here: Just because there is more activity in the market, it doesn’t mean your home went up in value or you’ll get the price you would’ve gotten earlier last year. It means you have more buyers looking but your home still has to be properly priced. Don’t wait to adjust your price; there’s more competition coming very soon. Take advantage of increased activity by adjusting the price and remarketing at the new price while you have this new audience. Then you’ll get the twofold benefit of new buyers and previously interested buyers – I call the latter “shadow shoppers.” They’ve been watching your home online but maybe haven’t come through the front door … yet. 

A price improvement can get them to step inside. And the goal in selling successfully is always to get those buyers through the front door. 

Of course, it’s always nice to attract buyers who are new to the market but in my experience, some of the best buyers are those people who have been tracking your house online. Both offers we received on that newly rebooted listing were from people who had seen the house; one buyer had been there three or four times over the last several months and the other buyer was tracking the house online. The buyer walked in, strolled around for about 20 minutes and said, “I want it.” 

Now that’s my favorite kind of buyer. 

So, the price improvement coupled with lower interest rates and the excitement of the new year proved to be the perfect trifecta in getting that property sold. 

Price is the number one enticement for shadow shoppers. Next is the way the listing presents online. If you have bad photos in the first four or five photos, a buyer will skip the listing all together. Those first few photos are key; they must entice or you won’t get the buyer through the front door. Sellers with bad photos aren’t doing themselves or the property any favors. Bad lighting? Nope. Unorganized, cluttered spaces? Nope. An overgrown front yard? Nope. Nope. Nope. 

I don’t care if you have a complete fixer house, at least get rid of items you don’t need and empty out the spaces as much as possible to allow people to see the potential of the rooms. There’s nothing wrong with selling a house as a “potential property” but you have to make the home look neat so people aren’t just looking at junk. Nobody wants to visit a house and think they’re walking into an antique store or retail shop! 

Clutter aside, price remains paramount. And please, don’t fall into the trap of thinking this new wave of buyers means you can keep your price where it is if your home has been sitting on the market for a while. If you didn’t attract buyers with the price then, you won’t attract them now. Plus, when your price is right, you could get multiple offers or potential overbids. About 99% of first views of a listing are online and about 100% of those buyers look at the price first even before they click on the photos or read the description of the property. 

Price is absolutely the number one factor determining a buyer’s interest. They’re looking at a certain price range and these days, it isn’t even as much about location. Buyers are not just looking for a home in Sherman Oaks. They’re looking in Encino, Studio City, a wide swathe of areas because their most important consideration is to get the best value possible. It’s why price is so important.

In our marketplace, there is no seasonality. Shadow shoppers are looking all the time. There are also those buyers who could stumble upon what I call a “make me move” house. Maybe they weren’t in the market or planning to move, but they saw a good deal and decided they could be in the market for this price. Just this Sunday, I showed clients a house and while it ultimately didn’t quite work for them, they looked around and said, “This is amazing. I would move for this.” 

With the right price, smart marketing and a plan in place, that “make me move” house could be yours!

Andrew Manning • REALTOR® • Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties • DRE: 00941825 • 818-380-2147 •