If you’re hoping to buy a house this year, you might have a hard time finding one. According to the latest data from Realtor.com, for-sale listings are officially at an all-time low.
By the end of December, the number of homes for sale had slipped below 700,000 for the first time on record. There are now 41% fewer homes on the market than this time last year.
According to Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com, the holidays played a role in the recent downtick — but they’re certainly not the only factor at play. Surging buyer demand mixed with historically low mortgage rates depleted housing inventory for much of the last year.
It’s a trend that will likely continue — at least for the first half of 2021 before vaccines can be widely distributed.
“Looking forward, we could see new lows in the next couple of months as buyers remain relatively active,” Hale said. “But a surge of new COVID cases may slow the number of sellers entering the market.”
The continued inventory shortage has made it increasingly difficult for buyers to find homes. And when properties do hit the market? They sell at lightning-fast pace. Last week, homes sold 10 days faster than the same week last year.
To make matters worse, dwindling listings are also driving up prices, which saw a 15.4% increase between January 2020 and January 2021. The median listing price of a single-family house now clocks in at $340,000.
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According to Hale, slowing that price growth will take an influx of new listings — something that just hasn’t happened yet and may not for a while. As of last week, new property listings were down 26% over the year.
“We expect home sales to rise this year while home prices grow, but at a slower pace,” Hale said. “We’ll need to see inventory recover for this to occur, making new listings the metric to watch.”