Rate dip drags ‘doomers’ back from the ledge: Client Pipeline Tracker

Expectations for future buyer pipelines have started to improve after a rough four-month stretch. Intel unpacks the latest developments with its Client Pipeline Tracker, fueled by the Intel Index.

This report is available exclusively to subscribers of Inman Intel, the data and research arm of Inman offering deep insights and market intelligence on the business of residential real estate and proptech. Subscribe today.

An improving inflation and mortgage-rate outlook in June may have boosted hopes for buyer pipelines and halted a four-month slide in sentiment among real estate agents.

These developments appear to have alleviated some of the most pessimistic worries of housing “doomers.” But true optimism is still a long way from taking hold among real estate professionals, Intel survey results suggest.

These insights and more were captured in Intel’s Client Pipeline Tracker, which reflected still-negative but improving business conditions in the closing weeks of June. It was the first uptick in agent sentiment recorded since January.

Client Pipeline Tracker level in June: -7

  • Previous level: -9 in May
  • Recent peak: +7 in January
pipeline tracker 2

Chart by Daniel Houston

The Tracker leverages monthly data from the Inman Intel Index survey to follow all these developments in real time. The new metric is designed to offer a clear, digestible way to interpret one of the earliest indicators of future revenue — the pool of potential clients available to each agent.

Still, despite some encouraging movement in recent weeks, agents are nowhere near as optimistic as they were at the beginning of the year.

Read the complete breakdown of the score in the full report.

A stabilizing moment

Intel’s Client Pipeline Tracker — introduced last month for the first time — is a compilation of how agents feel about their buyer and seller pipelines both over the past year and in the near future.

Intel described the full methodology in this intro post, but here’s a quick refresher on how to read the results.

  • A rating of 0 represents a neutral period in which client pipelines are neither improving nor worsening.
  • A positive score reflects a market in which client pipelines have been improving, or are widely expected to improve in the next 12 months. The higher the rating, the more confident agents are in that conditions are moving in a positive direction.
  • A negative score suggests client pipeline conditions are worsening, or are widely expected to get worse in the year to come.

An extremely positive combined score — where much of the industry is in agreement with the fact that pipelines are improving and will continue to improve — falls somewhere around +20

An extremely negative combined score, on the other hand, falls closer to -20. That’s a bit lower than where the industry stood in September, the first time Intel surveyed agents about their pipelines. 

For the individual components that go into the score, results as high as +50 or as low -50 are sometimes observed.

Here are the component scores for June, and how they changed from the previous month.

CPT component scores

May → June

  • Present buyer pipelines: -35 → -35
  • Future buyer pipelines: -4 → +3
  • Present seller pipelines: -20 → -20
  • Future seller pipelines: +4 → +4

We can see that 3 of the 4 inputs to the Client Pipeline Tracker remained steady in June. Present buyer conditions continue to receive the worst marks from agents, and present seller conditions remain pretty poor as well. 

The one component that saw a meaningful shift — future expectations for buyer pipelines — returned to net-positive territory for the first time since February.

Behind the numbers

So what’s behind this stabilization in agent sentiment?

For one thing, agents no longer believe things are getting worse from month to month — an important step, given the steady deterioration of self-reported buyer and seller pipelines they had been reporting since the beginning of the year.

But the main factor is that Intel is seeing fewer buyer agent “doomers” — agents who predict their buyer pipelines will worsen not just a little, but “significantly,” over the next 12 months.

  • The share of agents who expected their buyer pipelines to “significantly” worsen in the coming year dropped to 7 percent in June, down from about 11 percent in each of the previous three months.
  • This decline in strong pessimism coincided with a rise in general optimism toward the future. Among agents surveyed by Intel in June, 32 percent thought buyer pipelines would improve, up from 28 percent in the preceding months.

Indeed, even in the months leading up to June, agents who were optimistic about future buyer pipelines outnumbered pessimists. This was just counterbalanced by the fact that the pessimists were more likely to be doomers who predicted a large drop in buyers, rather than a small one.

Optimists, on the other hand, remain more cautious at the moment. 

  • Only 3 percent of all agent respondents in June said they expected “significant” improvement in their buyer pipelines over the next year, while 28 percent predicted moderate improvement.

It will take time to confirm whether this decline in pessimism is the start of a broader trend of improvement, or a mere blip in a struggling market.

But at the very least, the bottom doesn’t appear to be falling out anymore. Sentiment has remained roughly steady since late March. And Intel will continue to track what happens next each month as new results come in.

Methodology notes: This month’s Inman Intel Index survey was conducted June 20-30, 2024, and had received more than 580 responses as of Friday morning. The numbers used for this article are preliminary and subject to revision. The entire Inman reader community was invited to participate, and a rotating, randomized selection of community members was prompted to participate by email. Users responded to a series of questions related to their self-identified corner of the real estate industry — including real estate agents, brokerage leaders, lenders and proptech entrepreneurs. Results reflect the opinions of the engaged Inman community, which may not always match those of the broader real estate industry. This survey is conducted monthly.

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