Bidding wars make an unexpected jump; here’s where buyers face them most

Aly J. Yale
The Mortgage Reports contributor

Bidding wars typically drop as we get into fall, but according to new data 2019 is bucking that trend. In fact, bidding wars actually rose in September, with 11 percent of all buyers coming up against one last month.

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Bidding wars make unusual move

According to data from real estate brokerage Redfin, bidding wars notched up in September. And though the jump was minor (just one percentage point), Redfin Real Estate Analyst Tim Ellis says, “even a small uptick is unusual for this time of year.”

The bidding war rate typically falls about 15 percentage points from March to September. This year, it decreased just four points.

The reason is a mix of low mortgage rates and a cooler-than-usual spring homebuying market.

As Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist, explains, “After the coolest spring home-selling season in at least eight years, homebuying competition didn’t have far to fall, but low mortgage rates ultimately drove a modest uptick in bidding wars in late summer when they typically become less common.”

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Competition should stay steady for 2019

San Francisco is seeing the highest share of bidding wars, with about 28 percent of buyers coming up against one last month. Other cities with significant shares of bidding wars include Phoenix (21.2 percent), Las Vegas (21.2 percent), San Jose (17.9 percent, San Diego (16 percent), and Boston (15.2 percent).

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According to Fairweather, the competition is likely to remain steady for the rest of the year. 

“With mortgage rates likely to remain near historic lows, I expect the bidding war rate to continue to level off — rather than follow its typical end-of-year descent — as 2019 comes to a close,” she said.

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