The housing market continues to be competitive for buyers resulting in higher home prices and quick-selling homes. One bright spot for buyers is new listings increased for the first time this year, and more is likely ahead in upcoming weeks as we move into the heart of the home-selling season. More listings should give buyers more options, but this good news is somewhat tempered by higher mortgage rates, which will increase the monthly cost of those homes even if price gains slow.
Weekly Housing Trends Key Findings
Median listing prices grew at 17.2 percent over last year, marking 33 consecutive weeks of double-digit price growth. Monthly payments increased $100 in the last month thanks to soaring home prices and now climbing mortgage rates. The monthly payment for an 80% loan for the typical listing hit $1,260 in March, matching the previous peaks that we saw in both fall 2018 and spring 2019. Although they remain historically low, mortgage rates are rising and are expected to increase further later in the year, thus affordability will test buyer demand in the months ahead and likely help slow the pace of price growth.
New listings–a measure of sellers putting homes up for sale–notched a 6.3 percent gain compared to this time last year. In the early weeks of the pandemic, sellers–as measured by the new listings trend–were the first to respond to evolving conditions. Thus, while the year-over-year improvement is welcome, we’re comparing it against a low year-ago base. Relative to what we saw in 2017 to 2019, March 2021 was still roughly 117,000 new listings lower, adding to the pre-existing early-year gap of more than 200,000 fresh listings that would typically have come to market in January or February. As the weather warms, the key weeks for selling activity are still ahead of us, and we expect to see more new listings growth, but we are watching rising COVID case numbers as a possible risk to that projection.
Total active inventory continues to decline, dropping 53 percent. Because homes are selling quickly and seller activity continues to lag, the total number actively available for sale at any point in time continues to decline to lead to scarce options and competitive conditions for home shoppers.
Time on the market was 8 days faster than last year. Whether they are aiming to capitalize on low mortgage rates before they disappear or gain a competitive edge by submitting the first offer, today’s buyers are acting fast and homes are selling faster as a result. These fast-moving conditions are likely a contributing factor to the time first-time homebuyers take just planning to enter the housing market–over 40% of first-time homebuyers said they spent a year planning to buy a home.