SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The U.S. housing market continued to tighten in February as listings evaporated and home prices rose, according to realtor.com’s February Housing Trends Report. The continuation of those trends coupled with historically low mortgage rates could signal a competitive spring homebuying season on the horizon, with COVID-19, the coronavirus, a wild card that could impact the market.
Based on realtor.com’s analysis, national housing inventory declined 15.3% year-over-year last month, while the median U.S. listing price grew by 3.9% 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%. Inventory fell the fastest in Phoenix, San Diego and San Jose, with decreases in excess of 36% 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,” says realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale.
Homes “priced well” are expected to sell quickly this year, she says. “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.” She adds any impact from COVID-19 “remains to be seen … at least in the short-term.”
Florida metro year-to-year inventory changes in February
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater: Inventory down 22.9%, median listing prices up 4.2% and time on market down by 5 days
- Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford: Inventory down 20%, median listing prices up 8.4% and time on market down by 1 day
- Jacksonville: Inventory down 13.9%, median listing prices up 3.9% and time on market down by 6 days
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach: Inventory down by 13.5%, median listing prices up 3.7% and time on market down by 4 days
The lack of inventory prompted national listing prices to increase 3.9% to $310,000, a slightly accelerated pace compared to January. The U.S. median listing price had grown by 6 to 8% year over year until autumn of 2019 when growth began to slow, finally hitting a low of 3.1% in December.
Home prices rose in 46 of the 50 largest markets in February and were on average 6.5% higher than last year. Philadelphia led the nation with the greatest price growth, topping out just above 17% 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.
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