If you’re thinking about purchasing a residence in 2018, these highlights from Trulia’s economic research team on 2017’s home-buying trends can help you make the smartest moves in the new year.


In 2017: Most homes were worth less than their pre-recession peak

In May, Trulia data showed that only 34.2 percent of U.S. homes were worth more than their pre-recession peak. The recovery was wildly uneven. In places with strong income growth, such as Denver and San Francisco, a full 98 percent of homes shot past their pre-recession peak prices. But in places with weak income growth, it was a different picture: Fewer than 3 percent of homes in Las Vegas and Tucson, Ariz., had recovered their pre-recession value.


What you can do in 2018

There’s a lot of talk about rising home prices, but the reality is that if you avoid the hot spots, homes still are more affordable than they were before the last housing peak a decade ago. Focus on whether it’s a good time for you personally to buy, and be sure to be prepared if you decide to jump into the market next year.


In 2017…homes were selling quickly

Homes were being snapped up at the fastest clip since Trulia began keeping track in 2012. With homes in short supply, as they were in 2017, buyers tried to gain a competitive edge by bidding up the price and also by closing faster. Back in 2012, 57 percent of homes were still on the market two months after being listed—by June 2017, that number had fallen to 47 percent. The intensity was greatest, of course, in hot markets such as San Jose, Oakland, Seattle, San Francisco and Salt Lake City.


What you can do in 2018

Don’t crack under the pressure of a hot market. Understand all of the steps involved in the search process and in making an offer, so that when you find the right place you’re ready to make your move.


In 2017…house flippers were out in force

Home flipping picked up for the first time in three years, increasing to 6.1 percent of all sales from 5.3 percent in 2015. In January 2017, Trulia’s data showed that the national capital of house flipping was Las Vegas, where 10.5 percent of homes sold had been flipped, followed by Daytona Beach, at 9 percent. 


What you can do in 2018

House flippers, who buy as a short-term investment, tend to drive up prices and intensify bidding. You’re in the majors now. Get into the house-flipping mindset, so you can beat investors at their own game. And always be ready to make your best offer.


In 2017…late summer emerged as the best time to find price cuts

You might think that the best time to find reduced prices on homes for sale would be during the winter off-season, but it turns out that price cuts actually are rarer in December. Reduced prices are most common May through October. Reductions top out just as peak home-buying season is beginning to wane in August, when 13.9 percent of all listings get a price cut.


What you can do in 2018

Don’t be shy about shopping in the busy summer season, but do go in with some solid high-season shopping advice from the professionals.


In 2017…more deals crumbled during closing

As of the beginning of 2017, 4.3 percent of all sales fell apart in escrow. up from 1.4 percent at the end of 2014. Starter home deals are the likeliest to fall through, and Las Vegas is the biggest trouble spot, where 7.6 percent of home sales don’t wind up closing. 


What you can do in 2018

Don’t think of your offer being accepted as the finish line—it’s the starting line. This is go time to complete your contingencies and assemble your closing team. Should something go wrong while you’re in escrow, know exactly what your rights are as a buyer.


In 2017…buyers were second-guessing the size of their house

Trulia’s research in March 2017 showed that less than one-third of homeowners would choose the same size house if they moved in a year, while 37 percent would want a bigger house. Bigger houses aren’t necessarily the solution, however. Sixty percent of people living in homes with more than 2,000 square feet said they would choose a smaller home if they decided to move this year, while only 39 percent said they would go bigger. 


What you can do in 2018

While you’re on the open-house circuit, think beyond what space you need now. Consider how many kids you hope to have and whether aging parents likely will move in at some point.


In 2017…buying still saved money over renting

The cost of buying can be daunting, but Trulia’s 2017 data showed that if you could put 20 percent down and if you stayed in a house for seven years, buying typically would still save you 37 percent over renting.


What you can do in 2018


Take a deep breath, analyze the cost of renting versus buying where you live, and determine whether the time might be right for you to start looking.