New Bright MLS Survey Shows Strength in Mid-Atlantic Housing Market

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Bright MLS Real Estate Professionals Share Outlook for 2017

Bright MLS, the Mid-Atlantic’s largest multiple listing service (MLS) that serves approximately 85,000 real estate professionals across 40,000 square miles, today released the results of its 2017 Real Estate Outlook Survey. The survey looked at the Mid-Atlantic state of the market, first-time homebuyers, financing, and home design trends.

The survey drew responses from more than 1,100 real estate professionals within Bright MLS’s entire geographic footprint, including Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, focusing on their outlook for the spring housing market.

“After a solid 2016, the Mid-Atlantic real estate market is poised for continued growth in 2017,” said Tom Phillips, President & Chief Executive Officer of Bright MLS. “Many of our Bright MLS real estate professionals, who are at the forefront of the housing market, are predicting a brisk pace for closed sales, especially as the spring buying season continues to heat up.”

Approximately 63 percent of Bright MLS real estate professionals expect this year’s spring housing market to be busier than last spring. Factors they said would positively affect the market in 2017 include: an improved job market (44 percent), more first-time homebuyers entering the market (18 percent), more qualified buyers (16 percent), steady home price gains (14 percent) and rising rent costs (9 percent).

First-Time Homebuyers
Nearly 55 percent of real estate professionals expect there to be more first-time homebuyers entering the market this spring than last year. For 45 percent of respondents, the predominate age of their first-time homebuyer is between 20 and 30 years old, while 50 percent say it is between 30 and 40 years old, placing the millennial generation squarely in the majority of first-time homebuyers for 2017.

“2017 may be the year that we start to see millennials enter the real estate market with strength,” said Jon Coile, Chairman of the Board of Bright MLS. “As more members of this generation are building careers that can financially support homeownership, they are also getting married, starting families, settling down and buying a home.”

As more millennials enter the market this year, Bright MLS real estate professionals expect the following home features to be the most important factors for first-time homebuyers:

  •     72 percent said affordability
  •     63 percent said updated kitchen and bath
  •     62 percent said move-in ready status
  •     36 percent said open floor plan
  •     33 percent said walkable communities and public transportation
  •     26 percent said low maintenance features

A majority of respondents (75 percent) said that rising rent prices would encourage more millennials to purchase a home in 2017. However, 70 percent said that student loan debt is a major barrier limiting buyers’ potential to purchase a home.

Thirty-eight percent said that coming up with the money for a down payment is the biggest challenge facing first-time buyers, and only 14 percent expect to see buyers put more money towards down payments in 2017 than in past years.

“Last month, the Federal Reserve announced another interest rate increase, just three months after raising the federal funds rate in December,” said Coile. “While rising rates are a positive sign for the general economy, they could make buying a home more expensive, motivating buyers to move quickly this spring before mortgage rates increase again.”

A majority of real estate professionals (57 percent) feel that the Federal Reserve rate increase(s) will encourage homebuyers to move more quickly to purchase a home this year. Only 20 percent believe that homebuyers will decide not to purchase a home because of the increase(s).

Home Design Trends
Kitchens and baths continue to dominate as areas of focus for potential buyers, but other design trends and features are quickly becoming must-haves. Bright MLS real estate professionals said that the following amenities are continue to be frequently requested by buyers:

  •     74 percent said high-end kitchen
  •     61 percent said open concept
  •     56 percent said high-end bath
  •     46 percent said outdoor dining/entertaining space
  •     39 percent said parking
  •     21 percent said fireplace(s)

Forty-five percent of respondents said that there is even more demand for open kitchens and open floor plans this year than in recent past years. A vast majority, 89 percent, said that an open floor plan is the feature that homebuyers request most in the kitchen.

For more information on the Bright MLS 2017 Real Estate Outlook Survey, please contact Courtney Benhoff at courtney(at)

Survey Methods Statement:
The survey, conducted online by Bright MLS between February 27 and March 16, 2017, polled Mid-Atlantic real estate professionals within the Bright geographic footprint, including Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, about their outlook for the 2017 real estate market. Subscribers were notified of the opportunity to participate in the survey via Bright MLS websites and email communications. All subscribers who took the survey were entered for a chance to win one of five Visa® gift cards. More than 1,100 Bright MLS customers participated in the survey.

For more information on Bright MLS, please visit

About Bright MLS
The Bright MLS real estate service area spans 40,000 square miles throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, including Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. As a leading Multiple Listing Service (MLS), Bright serves approximately 85,000 real estate professionals who in turn serve over 20 million consumers. For more information, please visit

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Courtney Benhoff
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