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Solid economic conditions are expected to boost the Mid-Atlantic real estate market in 2020, but some prospective buyers and sellers may opt to wait out election season before hopping into the market as buyers or sellers.

Those predictions are among the highlights of a new survey looking at trends in the housing market across the broader region, conducted by Bright MLS, the multiple-listing service representing 95,000 real estate professionals in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the District of Columbia and West Virginia.

The survey, released Feb. 5, drew its conclusions from the responses of approximately 1,000 participating real estate professionals currently practicing inside the region.

Perhaps the key takeaway: “2019 was a tremendous year for the housing market in the Mid-Atlantic, and our survey shows that local real-estate professionals are optimistic about the region experiencing another banner year in 2020,” said Brian Donnellan, president and CEO of Bright MLS.

Nearly 45 percent of respondents said the improved jobs market is among the factors pointing to a strong housing market in the coming year. However, there also was concern over the upcoming election cycle, with 45 percent of real-estate professionals suggesting that homeowners may stay put rather than embark on a move.

More than 60 percent of respondents believe that home prices will continue to increase in 2020, in part because of inventory concerns. In fact, 41 percent of respondents say that low inventory will be the biggest negative factor in the 2020 estate market.

The inventory crunch could be most felt in the single-family sector: More than 70 percent of respondents said their clients are seeking suburban single-family homes, but this part of the market only represents about half the units that come up for sale.

The majority of first-time buyers entering the market are of the Millennial generation, but student-debt loads are impacting that group’s ability to afford properties, nine out of 10 real-estate professionals said. On the other hand, Millennials are being squeezed by increasing rental costs, which may push them toward purchasing even if the property they end up in is not the one of their dreams.

Because of the challenge in coming up with down payments and affording the cost of housing, nearly half of respondents said first-time buyers are waiting longer than average to get into the market, and about a third of respondents said those clients are having trouble obtaining mortgages.

Also from the survey:

• 80 percent of respondents opined that builders are not constructing enough affordable homes in the areas they serve.

• More than two-thirds said that downsizing may be a key reason the region will see new homes come onto the market.

• Eight out of 10 said that kitchen renovations add the most value to a home. Other key features to entice buyers: move-in-ready status, affordability, open floor plan, walkable communities, public transportation and low-maintenance features.

The survey was conducted Dec. 19 to Jan. 2. For information on Bright MLS, see the Website at www.brightmls.com.

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