A new tally for days on market
Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, which runs the local multiple-listing service, said today that it is changing the way it tallies the number of days certain properties have been on the market. Follow along, because if you judge the health of a housing market by the number of days it takes homes to sell, you may soon be comparing apples to oranges.
Currently, a home pulled off the market and put back on less than 180 days later doesn't show up as a new listing -- its running total of days on the market includes the earlier stint. Tomorrow, Rockville-based MRIS says, that waiting period drops to 90 days. It said a majority of agents surveyed were in favor of the change.
"This just seems to be regarded by those in the industry as ... a more accurate gauge of what would connotate a new listing," said Mary Jo Powell, a spokeswoman for MRIS. She said sellers who pull their homes off the market to fix them up and try again have been at a disadvantage because buyers concentrate on new listings.
Powell said MRIS estimates that 20 percent of the currently active listings will be affected by this change, meaning they were on the market, then off, and were put back on again sometime between 90 and 180 days later. That seems significant enough that it's worth keeping in mind if you track changes in days on market in MRIS's online statistical reports by county and ZIP code.
There's a bone of contention about this change:
MRIS says its property history on each home for sale will note how long it was listed previously, so "it doesn't deceive anyone," Powell said. But John F. Sullivan, a buyer's agent with Buyer's Edge in Bethesda, thinks the move will benefit sellers to the detriment of buyers.
"It does nothing but disguise the real, true condition of the property," said Sullivan, president-elect of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents. "Your major brokers ... are not going to be going into history files to show the consumer anything because it would hurt their business. ... Their business is representing sellers."
In his opinion, the change creates a false sense of urgency. Agents can, as of tomorrow, honestly tell buyers that 123 Main Street just hit the market two days ago, so hurry up and offer the full asking price! -- even though 123 Main Street was also on the market for a long while with no bites until three months earlier.
What do you folks think?