Real estate agents walk out of a home for sale during a broker’s open house in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Anyone looking for a new place to live knows that there isn’t much to buy. Overall supply and new listings are low, and that means what’s on the market will sell quickly. Really fast.
According to January readings from Realtor.com, the average home spent 61 days on the market. That’s the fastest pace since Realtor.com began tracking the measure in 2016. That’s 10 fewer days than the pace recorded in January 2021 and 29 fewer than the 2017-20 pace.
Homes sell quickly in many metropolitan markets. In Nashville, the average was only 29 days. 35 days in Denver. The pace was 38 days in Las Vegas and 39 days in Seattle.
Markets in the South posted the biggest annual decline in days it took to sell a home. Meanwhile, markets such as Minneapolis, Richmond, and Washington, D.C., saw a slight increase in time on the market.
The dates are calculated from the listing date to the closing date. Closing may take some time, especially given the labor shortage in the market. It’s common to hear by accident that homes are under contract in less than a week after multiple offers.
Competition seems unusually fierce for January, which is usually one of the slowest months in the housing market. The spring market generally begins on Presidents Day weekend. Rising mortgage rates throughout the month may have spooked buyers into intensifying their search before prices drop.
The market is suffering from extremely low supply. Developers are still struggling due to the rising cost of land and materials as well as severe labor shortages. And sellers are simply not increasing. New listings in January were down 9% year-over-year. Total inventory was down 28 percent.
“Things like Omicron uncertainty can make sellers hesitate even when they know housing conditions are favorable,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. Another key obstacle is the ‘chicken-and-egg’ dilemma of inventory that can vex prospective sellers: With home buyers hungry for more options, should they list now or wait until more inventory comes on the market in the spring?”
Rising mortgage rates may be keeping some potential sellers from moving. Most homeowners’ mortgages are now below 3%. The 30-year fixed mortgage average is now heading towards 4%. Current homeowners may not like the idea of paying more on the same debt they currently have.
As rates rise, so does their purchasing power. Home prices continue to rise rapidly, and in fact the price gains are still rising. When the expected number of sales decreases, prices freeze. Homes are selling fast right now, but fewer homes are selling, due to a lack of supply. Builders are actively delaying sales of their own homes to ensure they deliver on time.
“As demand continues to outpace supply, we have been able to maintain our sales strategy, align our sales and production capabilities, and drive community performance in many of our communities,” wrote Sherrill Palmer, CEO of homebuilder Taylor Morrison. Latest Earnings Disclosure.