When it comes to real estate, spring kicks off the most wonderful time of the year. May, June, July, and August are the months in which the most homes are sold. If you’re looking to upgrade from a starter home to a luxury home, now is an opportune time to do so. Not only are interest rates low, but as a seller, you’ll generate plenty of interest from buyers looking to purchase a starter home. As a buyer, you’ll be more likely to find your dream home because more homes make it on to the market this time of year.

Here’s what you need to know about the spring 2019 housing market, including where you’ll find the hottest markets and what kind of features are helping listings stand out.

1. It’s a Good Time to Sell Your Starter Home

Now is a great time to put your starter home on the market. Nationwide, the median sales prices for homes is $249,500, which is up 3.6 percent from last year, according to the latest market report from the National Association of REALTORS®. This is good news for sellers. “A powerful combination of lower mortgage rates, more inventory, rising income, and higher consumer confidence is driving the sales rebound,” explains Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®. The price increase comes as listings have risen 6 percent, with 73,000 more listings compared to this time last year.

2. Cash Continues to Be a Big Player

Almost one in four sales are all-cash, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Cash sales made up 23 percent of sales in February 2019, the most recent data available from the association. That is comparable to the year prior, when cash sales made up 24 percent of sales. Cash is king in the luxury market, where an all-cash offer can improve your chances of an offer by 448 percent, according to bidding-war data collected by Redfin. Buyers favor cash offers because they are less likely to fall through, they get to the closing table quickly, and they aren’t affected by financing contingencies. Having your loan underwritten upfront, as well as these other strategies, will help you compete with cash offers.

3. Mortgage Rates Remain at Historic Lows

For those who are looking to buy, now is an opportune time because mortgage rates remain at historic lows. Rates are as low as 4.3 percent right now. While numerous agencies predicted rates would increase to around 5.5 percent by the end of the year, those predictions have been tempered, and today’s rates could be the lowest they’ll be for years.

4. The Most Competitive Buyers Are in the West

If you’re looking to buy out West, especially in California or Colorado, you’ll need to position yourself as a strong buyer. A study found that Denver has the most competitive home buyers: They’ve got strong credit and a lot of money to put down as a down payment. High-paying tech jobs in the Bay Area also help give California home buyers an edge. Homes in the San Francisco Bay Area are only on the market for an average of 20 days, which makes for an extremely competitive market, according to market data from the California Association of Realtors.

5. The Luxury Market is a Buyer’s Market, with Some Exceptions

Overall, the luxury housing market is a buyer’s market, according to the March 2019 report from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing. Nationwide, homes are selling for 96.88 percent of the listing price, and the median luxury home sales price is $1.39 million. But the report gives a breakdown of markets, and Denver and San Francisco both remain seller’s markets, which means it’s important for potential buyers to be highly qualified and ready to compete with cash offers.

6. Buyers are Loving ‘Chef Kitchens’

We know that great staging can drastically drive up the price of a home. But custom amenities are also something that can affect listing prices this spring and that buyers should be on the lookout for, according to a new study from Zillow. Homes with chef-inspired kitchen features, for example, can sell for up to 34 percent more, according to the study, which analyzed listing data of 4.6 million homes. If you’re looking to sell your home, you may want to point out some of its special amenities: First-time homebuyers were willing to pay more for free-standing tubs, pizza ovens, and wine cellars. Open shelving and subway tiling helped starter homes fly off the market fast, too.

Ready to buy a home in 2019? Eave is here to help you every step of the way. Set up a quick 15-minute consultation with one of our licensed loan experts today!