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Home Buyers Face a Balancing Act

According to Redfin, a Seattle-based online real estate broker, only 49% of 895 homeowners "with intent to sell their homes" surveyed plan on selling their homes in 2013, and only 22% believe now is a good time to sell.

Mainly, that sentiment is tied tightly to a perception that home prices are rising: 81% of homeowners surveyed believe prices will rise in 2013, and 34% say that "missing out" on future home price gains is the primary reason they are holding off on selling their homes.

That has led to a downward shift in U.S. homes for sale, Redfin says. The firm says that home sale inventories "plummeted in every market" it covers. The company's data show 30% fewer home sale listings than in 2012.

"The growing number of home sellers whose top concern is that they may miss out on even greater price gains suggests homeowners' continued reluctance to enter the market just yet," Redfin says in a Jan. 24 statement.

That may be only a temporary trend, though.

"As prices continue to rise, Redfin expects what it now considers an inventory crisis to ease as the spring and summer home-selling seasons approach," the firm reports.

The takeaway for homebuyers?

It's a bit of a balancing act. Sure, interest rates are low, but some analysts expect mortgage rates to rise in 2013.

With limited home inventories on the market and prices expected to rise, maybe it's a good idea to get cracking, even in the dead of winter, and see what deals are out there right now.

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