Housing Inventory Continues to Climb, Growing for Third Straight Month

In another positive sign for a more robust spring buying season and shift in what has been one of the industry’s most challenging headwinds, homes listed for sale across the housing market grew by 7.9% over the same period last year, according to the latest Monthly Housing Trends report for January from realtor.com®.

While inventory of homes for sale still has a long journey back to pre-pandemic levels, nationwide, it’s been rising consistently since October 2023—after numbers drastically plummeted during the pandemic. The typical home spent 69 days on the market last month, which is four days shorter than January 2023, and over two weeks shorter prior to the start of COVID. According to the report, only eight markets saw an increase in time on the market higher than pre-pandemic levels, highlighted in the key takeaways below.

Experts believe that home sales are going to reverse the negative trends of 2023, when sales were low and mortgage rates rose to a level not seen in 20-plus years, as a continued supply of houses will propel sales with maintained—not increasingly unreasonable—mortgage rates.

“Part of the reason why sales were down and at their lowest level in a decade was higher mortgage rates,” said Bright MLS Chief Economist Dr. Lisa Sturtevant during RISMedia’s Real Estate’s Rocking in the New Year virtual event last month. “But lack of supply was the primary driver of fewer sales.”

Realtor.com’s report indicated median prices are mostly unchanged, facing a growth of 1.4% comparatively with January of last year.

Some markets have proven to be highly active, the report showed, spending four or more less days on the market compared to January 2023. These included markets such as Phoenix and San Francisco, while Las Vegas lead the charge in that category, with homes sitting 19 days fewer on the market since last year, the report showed.

Lani Belcher, an agent with eXp Realty serving Las Vegas, believes her market is unique, being a major attraction for people on the west coast and those interested in employment under the city’s newly acclaimed professional sports teams. The Las Vegas Raiders (NFL, 2020) and the Las Vegas Aces (WNBA, 2018) are two of the most recent, prominent additions to the city.

“I feel like the Vegas market has always been a little different than everyone else’s. I feel like the biggest draw here is Californians moving here and then people wanting to own vacation homes. And also business owners being able to have a Nevada primary residence for their business to benefit from the low taxes,” she said. “There have also been a lot of new jobs created with the different sports teams and facilities that are being created. I know it sounds odd to have people move to where their sports teams are located, but it’s a real thing, and people are lifelong fans.”

Belcher also noted that the inventory is “sparse” in Las Vegas, so the gap surrounding the number of days homes are listed on the market is narrowed.

“The market is still hot and getting hotter,” Belcher said. “So many people here can’t afford to be homeowners, which draws the investor groups to purchasing homes to rent out.”

Key takeaways:

Metros that saw the largest inventory growth in January 2024 over the last year—among 27 others:

  • Denver +21.3%
  • Seattle +20.6%
  • Miami +20.2%

Biggest inventory increases in large metros:

  • Pittsburgh +17.5%
  • Los Angeles +17.2%
  • Richmond 16.2%

Cities with the greatest inventory declines in new listings:

  • Chicago -16.4%
  • New Orleans -14.7%
  • Philadelphia -12.9%

Homes that decreased in time on the market:

  • Las Vegas -19 days
  • Phoenix -14 days
  • San Francisco 13 days

Cities that increased in time on the market:

  • Indianapolis +6 days
  • New Orleans +4 days
  • Birmingham +3 days

The eight markets that saw an increase in time on the market higher than pre-pandemic levels:

  • San Francisco +9 days
  • Seattle +9 days
  • Denver +7 days
  • Portland, Oregon +4 days
  • Austin +3 days
  • San Antonio +3 days
  • Los Angeles +3 days
  • San Jose, California +1 day

What the experts say:

“We are seeing increases in inventory and, importantly, gains in newly listed homes for sale indicating sellers are more ready to make moves. Time on market fell, signaling that buyers are ready to make offers on these new options,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist of realtor.com® in a statement. “While the drop in mortgage rates since last fall has helped boost buyer purchasing power, rates may not fall as quickly in the months ahead, and the anticipated improvement in affordability may be more uneven.”

For the full report, click here.

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