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Home Buying Tips

Navigating a buyer’s market vs. seller’s market

Reading Time — 5 minutes

April 26, 2019

By Heidi Knight

Reading Time — 5 minutes

April 26, 2019

Does the concept of a buyer’s or seller’s market leave you scratching your head in confusion? You’re not alone. Real estate jargon can seem like a foreign language to many. Don’t worry, we’re here to decode the lingo for you.

So, what’s a buyer’s market?

A “buyer’s market” refers to market conditions where housing supply exceeds housing demand. To put it plainly, there are more homes for sale than people looking to buy. This imbalance results in a market that favors buyers. But why?

Well, as inventory increases, properties tend to stay on the market for longer. This often prompts sellers to be more flexible on sale prices. Rather than finding themselves in a series of never-ending bidding wars, buyers are more likely to score a great deal on a home.

How to survive a buyer’s market as a seller

From a seller’s point of view, a buyer’s market is not the ideal time to sell. If getting as much value out of your home as possible is crucial to you, you may want to consider delaying the sale of your home.

That said, life events like new employment opportunities or changing family circumstances could mean that the timing of your move may not always be under your control.

In any case, there are still some things you can do to help your property stand out from the crowd:

  1. Boost that curb appeal, and consider high ROI upgrades. In this market, the most attractive homes go first (and to higher bidders). Before putting your home on the market, make sure it’s in peak condition by fixing any lingering maintenance issues, pumping up the curb appeal, and maybe even investing in a few affordable upgrades like fresh paint or new countertops.

  2. Invest in top-notch photography. Listing photos offer potential buyers their first impression of the property. Make sure it’s a good one by investing in photography that presents your home in its most flattering light. This will ensure that buyers are clamoring to come see your home, rather than passing it over for more attractive options. Read our blog for more tips.

  3. Price to sell. You don’t have to give up on making a profit from the start, but you should list your home at a price that remains competitive for the market you’re in. If time is of the essence, you might even want to consider an ibuyer to spare yourself the process of marketing your home for months.

  4. Be flexible. Be flexible when it comes to accommodating showings and to negotiating offers. The more people that are able to see your home, the more likely you are to find someone that’s interested. Then, when you’re ready to negotiate an offer, be sure to keep an open mind.

→ Want to close in just a few days at a competitive price? Learn how we make selling your house easier.

The flip side: Buying a home in a seller’s market

Alternatively, in a “seller’s market”, there are more people shopping than properties available for purchase giving sellers the upper hand.

In this instance, the imbalance of supply and demand generally results in intense bidding wars driven by multiple offer situations, shorter days on market and ever-increasing sales prices.

Staying competitive in a seller’s market

As a buyer, scoring a property in a seller’s market can mean jumping through many hoops. You have to be ready to move fast, negotiate generously, and prepare for rejection.

Don’t lose hope, though. All it takes is a little forethought to get your offer battle ready:

  • Have your paperwork ready. When you find a home you love, you won’t want to have to wait on financial paperwork before submitting an offer. Do yourself a favor, and apply for pre-approval first. That way, you’ll be ready when the time comes.

  • Shop during off-peak seasons. Skip the infamous Spring market in favor of a quieter time to shop for a home like back-to-school time or over the holidays. You’ll face much less competition.

  • Stay alert. Use the Opendoor app to get alerted the minute a property that matches your search hits that market, so you can get in on the action early.

  • Schedule house tours ASAP. Once a property you like becomes available, it probably won’t last long. Make sure you give yourself an opportunity to get in on the action by going to see it as soon as possible, even if it means being a little flexible in other areas of your schedule. In this case, it’s better safe than sorry.

  • Write a strong offer. Unfortunately, a seller’s market is not the time to try and score a deal. Ask yourself how upset you’ll be if you lose out on this house, and then write your offer accordingly. If you really love it, don’t be afraid to go in above the asking price — and be sure to write a winning offer letter.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, or insurance advice. Opendoor always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

→ How to sell your house – tips for a fast sale

→ How to buy a house house stress-free

→ How Opendoor’s costs compare to a traditional home sale

→ More home selling and buying guides

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Further reading

How to determine how much home you can afford

How to determine how much home you can afford