Stage is Set for Competitive Spring Home Buying Season

– For sale homes declined by 15.3 percent in February year-over-year,
and inventory in large markets decreased by 16.3 percent
– The February national median listing price was $310,000, up 3.9 percent year-over-year and prices are re-accelerating
– Nationally, homes sold in 80 days in February, three days more quickly than last year

The U.S. housing market continued to tighten in February as the inventory of for sale homes saw additional listings evaporate and home prices rose, according to realtor.com’s February Housing Trends Report released today. The continuation of these trends could signal a competitive spring homebuying season on the horizon.

Based on realtor.com’s analysis, national housing inventory declined 15.3 percent year-over-year last month, while the median U.S. listing price grew by 3.9 percent, to $310,000. February’s inventory decline, which amounted to a loss of 184,000 listings, was the largest
year-over-year decline since realtor.com began tracking inventory data.

Twenty-five of the nation’s 50 largest metros saw the number of homes for sale decline more than 20 percent. Inventory fell the fastest in Phoenix, San Diego, Calif., and San Jose, with decreases in excess of 36 percent over last year.

“The Fed’s decision to cut rates by 50 basis points earlier this week in reaction to concerns over the spread of Covid-19 is good for home buyers, but only if they can find a home to purchase. Finding a home remains the chief challenge in today’s inventory-starved market,” said realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “Given the still-decreasing number of homes for sale in many markets, if a listed home is priced well, expect it to sell quickly this year. Construction of new homes will need to jump into overdrive in order to bring the nation’s supply and demand for housing back towards equilibrium.

“Additionally, it remains to be seen how the recent growing concern over the spread of Covid-19 will impact consumer spending, at least in the short-term,” Hale added.
The lack of inventory prompted listing prices to increase 3.9 percent to $310,000, a slightly accelerated pace compared to last month. The U.S. median listing price had grown by 6 to 8 percent year over year until autumn of 2019 when growth began to slow, finally hitting a low of 3.1 percent in December.

Home prices rose in 46 of the 50 largest markets in February and were on average 6.5 percent higher than last year. Philadelphia led the nation with the greatest price growth, topping out just above 17 percent at $295,000.

As buyers grapple with a lack of inventory and rising prices, homes sold at a faster rate than last year. Nationally, homes sold in 80 days in February, three days quicker than last this time last year. This trend was exaggerated in the nation’s largest metros where homes sold five days faster than last year on average. Hartford, Conn.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Washington, D.C. saw homes selling at the fastest rates in the nation compared to last year, each with homes selling more than two weeks faster than last year.

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