Housing market, mired in low inventory, primed for competitive winter

November 10, 2021
In each month from March through October 2021, the typical U.S. home spent fewer days on market than in the fastest-selling month from 2016-2020, according to a new Realtor.com report.
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Fall has historically been a slow period for the U.S. housing market, but the pandemic housing market still seems to be going gangbusters.

In each month from March through October 2021, the typical U.S. home spent fewer days on the market than in the fastest-selling month from 2016-2020, according to a new Realtor.com report.

In October in 2021, an average home spent 45 days on the market, slightly longer than the previous month’s average of 43 days. However, homes still sold faster than in any October in recent history, including 2020 (-8 days) and 2019 (-21 days). 

Homes are also more expensive. The median listing price last month reached $380,000, 9% higher than in October 2020 and 22% higher than in October 2019. .

The pandemic market has been defined by a smaller pool of homes for sale. At 636,606 active listings in October, inventory fell 22% from last October and 52% from October 2019.

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There were 5,975 more homes under contract than actively-listed homes, taking a step back from improvements in inventory seen since June.

“The fact that we still have relatively low inventory levels heading into this last part of the year suggests that the market is still very competitive and likely to remain so,” says Danielle Hale, the chief economist for Realtor.com. “Buyers are facing some real challenges in the market,” she said, pointing out higher prices, fast-moving sales and mortgage rates that have crept higher..”

The 50 largest U.S. markets saw a slight increase in annual listing price growth in October, rising by an average of 5% versus last month’s rate of 4%.

At least five metros saw an annual listing price increase of 18%, including Austin (+35.2%), Las Vegas (+27.2%), Tampa (21.8%), Orlando (+20.0%) and Denver (+18.3%). 

There are some indications the listing price growth might be slowing down nationally.

While 5% fewer homes went through a price reduction in October compared with 2019, it was up by 1% from last October.

Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy is the housing and economy reporter for USA TODAY. Follow her on Twitter @SwapnaVenugopal

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