House hunting takes back seat to Cubs, campaign
Foot traffic through local homes for sale plunged more last month than in any of the previous four Octobers, according to data gleaned from local real estate agents.
That includes October 2012, the last time a presidential campaign was going on.
“You have the election and the World Series distracting buyers, or making them nervous,” said the data provider, Paul Lazarre, a co-founder of Chicago-based real estate site Truepad. The site gathers data from about 25 percent of the region’s real estate agents.
Lazarre gauges demand using data that essentially compares the number of homes on the market to the number of showings buyers’ agents request. In the three weeks that ended Oct. 29 (a popular day for open houses), Chicago-area showings dropped about 30 percent, he said.
In the comparable period in the past four years, the drop was from about 3 percent to about 10 percent, Lazarre said. Data for years before 2012 is available but not quite comparable, he said, because the real estate market was so depressed.
Conlon/Christie’s International Real Estate agent Ryan Preuett said the data stack up with his experience this fall.
“Showing requests have certainly slowed down,” Preuett said. “There’s still activity going on, but it’s not like the velocity it was.” He also concurs with Lazarre’s data showing that past October falloffs weren’t as steep.
“It always cools off, but it’s been more noticeable this year,” Preuett said. Along with the World Series and the presidential campaign, Preuett said, buyers also may have been cooling their jets because of Chicago’s recent property tax increase and talk of another teacher strike.
Lazarre’s system collects data from a booking system for real estate agents to determine how many showings a home gets. While his model measures homes differently based on average foot traffic for listings in its neighborhood, a 300 essentially means a house is getting three showings a week.
By Oct. 29, homes were averaging about 3.2 showings over the course of the past three weeks, Lazarre’s data show, down from 4.5 in late September and early October. As well as being the biggest drop, the figure is also one of the two lowest in the past five Octobers. In October 2012, it was 4.7, followed by 4.3 (2013), 3.2 (2014) and 3.6 (2015).
The figures are approximate because of the weighting of different neighborhoods and other technical adjustments in Lazarre’s data.
After the election and the World Series, “we could be in for a change,” Lazarre said. In 2012, showings soared beginning right after Thanksgiving.