- If you want to buy a house, you should be prepared to pay above the listing price, Redfin found.
- Low mortgage rates are boosting house prices while available homes, or inventory, are scarce.
- It’s the latest example of the K-shaped recovery, and how 2020 broke the housing market.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A new report from Redfin found that potential homebuyers should be prepared to look beyond the listing price, as the average house isn’t selling for that.
For the week ending March 7, the sale-to-list price ratio rose to 100.1%, the first time that ratio has gotten so high in Redfin’s data collection dating back to 2016.
The data also shows that the number of listings has dropped while home prices have climbed. In the four-week period that ended March 7, the average asking price for newly listed homes was $US349,975 ($451,628) – a record high. The median sales price also reached a record high, coming in at $US328,350 ($423,722).
Insider’s Taylor Borden reported last November that so many homes were selling in 2020 – without enough coming onto the market – that the country could run out of homes for sale within months, just sending prices higher in the interim. That story is bearing out in early 2021, Borden further reported, and the Redfin data offers a stark look at the current lay of the land.
Broadly, Redfin found new listings were down 17% from last year. The decrease in active listings from 2020 was a record-setting drop, a whopping 41%. And 59% of houses sold in two weeks or under in the week ending March 7.
As Borden wrote earlier this month, “America is running out of houses, so anyone who wants to buy a home right now is basically screwed.”
As with many other features of the uneven economic recovery from the pandemic, the housing market’s current status appears to be K-shaped, with wealthier Americans able to navigate it and less-well-off people out of luck.
So how did this happen?
Importantly, mortgage rates have fallen throughout the pandemic, and housing stock dropped. In January 2021, there was just a two-month supply of inventory, according to the National Association of Realtors – a drop from the three-month supply in January 2020.
“Sellers’ asking prices have marched upward every week this year. Buyers have learned that if they aren’t aggressive enough one week, they will have to bid higher on a home that’s listed the following week,” Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather wrote in the report. “This super competitive housing market has been fueled by rock-bottom mortgage rates, so home prices should start to grow at a slower rate as mortgage rates tick up.”
Over the summer, even as the economy continued to sink, house prices rose as more people set out to make their pandemic flights from cities permanent.
And, as Borden reports, with house prices soaring, some would-be sellers have been hesitant to list their places, worried they won’t be able to afford a new one. That hasn’t helped with the ongoing inventory issue.
There’s also a K-shaped recovery for renters. A new CoreLogic report found that single-family rent prices rose by 3.8% year-over-year in January 2021, and are increasing much more rapidly for high-price rentals, by 4.2%, versus a 2.5% gain in January 2020. The report says this was the fastest such increase since August 2013 as higher-wage workers able to work from home pushed up prices. For low-price rentals, rent growth was far slower; up just 2.9% in January, versus 3.7% growth in January 2020.
Cities like Boston and Chicago both saw declines in rent prices; Insider’s Hillary Hoffower previously reported, leaving New York’s millennials able to take advantage of unprecedented deals in the rental market. They were nabbing deals, with some upgrading from cramped apartments to luxury buildings.
The K shape is real in the housing market, both rentals and sales.
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