Home buyers this spring and summer continue to face heavy competition for the limited number of homes for sale despite some indications that more homeowners are getting ready to sell.

Realtor.com reports that while new listings are still well below the number of homes placed on the market in early 2020, the gap is beginning to shrink. For the week ended March 20, new listings were down 14 percent compared with that same week in 2020, which is a smaller gap than the 24 percent reported the previous week. Still, Realtor.com reports that because homes are selling fast and fewer homes are being listed for sale, the total number of homes for sale (including new listings and previously available homes) is 52 percent lower than in 2020.

Competition between buyers in the past six months has led many to offer more than the listing price and to waive the right to make their offer contingent on an appraisal, a home inspection or financing, according to a recent report by Redfin.

From September 2020 through February, 34.4 percent of buyers paid more than the seller’s asking price for a home, up from 21.2 percent during between September 2019 and February 2020. The share of successful offers by Redfin agents on behalf of their buyers without an appraisal contingency rose to 17.6 percent between September 2020 and February 2021 compared with 6.1 percent during that same period a year earlier. Inspection contingency waivers rose to 13.2 percent from 7.3 percent, and financing contingency waivers increased to 13.2 percent compared with 10.1 percent.

While the average percentage of down payment funds remained close to the same year-over-year at 15.9 percent between September 2020 and February 2021 compared with 15.3 percent during that same period one year ago, the amount of down payment rose due to the increase in home sales prices, according to Redfin. The median amount of down payment was $40,987 during the past six months compared with $32,261 during the same period a year ago.

Down payment requirements can be as low as 3 to 5 percent. First-time buyers make an average down payment of 7 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, while repeat buyers make an average down payment of 16 percent.

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