Number of Homes for Sale Has Dropped, But Prices Have Risen

April 3, 2020

The number of homes for sale declined 15.7% annually in March, a housing report released Thursday by® shows. However, the national median listing price was up 3.8% to $320,000 last month, and homes spent fewer days on the market in March as the pandemic prompted mass restrictions to be put in place across the country to try to stop the spread.

Price growth did show some deceleration during the weeks ending March 21 and March 28 compared to the first two weeks of the month,® notes. The U.S. listing price over those last weeks increased at a slower clip of 3.3% and 2.5% annually, which is the slowest pace of growth in®’s records, dating back to 2013.

Prior to the pandemic, the nation was already facing tight inventories of homes for sale. In February, the number of homes on the market had dropped 15.3% annually. However, the weeks ending March 21 and 28, respectively, saw inventories decline at a slightly slower pace of 15.2% each on a year-over-year basis,® reports.

Homes sold a median of 60 days in March across the U.S.—four days faster than a year ago,® reports.

"The U.S. housing market had a good start to the year,” says Danielle Hale,®’s chief economist. “Despite still-limited homes for sale, buyers were buying and builders were building. The pandemic and virus-fighting measures appear to be disrupting that initial momentum as both buyers and sellers adopt a more cautious posture."

Inventory declines in March were most pronounced in metros like Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (down 42.2%); Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. (down 36.2%); San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. (down 33.4%). The only metro® tracked that saw inventory increase annually in March was Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis., up 3.6% from a year ago.

“Consistent with the first two months of 2020, March saw homes selling more quickly than last year as an early home buying season began in the U.S.,”® reports. Properties sold the most quickly in March—a median of 29 days or less--in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.; and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.Va.

Of the 50 largest metros tracked,® reported that 45 markets continued to post year-over-year gains in median list prices. The highest annual gains were recorded in Pittsburgh (up 17.9% annually); Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. (up 14%); and Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark. (up 12.7%).

table showing markets and available inventory. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.