Real Estate

More Buyers Step Onto The Field, Luring Some Sellers Off The Sidelines

Home buyer demand continues to increase from its fall low point despite mortgage rates ticking up this week, according to a new report from Redfin, a technology-powered real estate brokerage. Seller activity is also picking up.

Pending home sales posted their smallest decline since September during the four weeks ending February 5, falling 20% from a year earlier, and mortgage-purchase applications rose 3% from a week earlier. Redfin’s Homebuyer Demand Index—a measure of requests for tours and other services from Redfin agents—hit its highest level since September.

More homes are hitting the market to meet increasing demand; new listings dropped 17% from a year earlier, but that’s the smallest decline in over four months.

Although mortgage rates increased this week, they’re still down roughly a full percentage point from the peak they reached at the end of 2022. Rates coming down from their peak—along with home prices coming down from theirs—is the main reason buyers and sellers have started coming off the sidelines.

“By Super Bowl weekend, we usually have a good idea how a given year’s housing market will play out. But this year is anything but typical,” said Chen Zhao, Redfin’s economics research lead. “This year is more uncertain than most because the effects of last year’s rapid rate hikes are still flowing through the economy, and we’re not sure how much more the Fed will raise rates this year. So even after the Super Bowl comes and goes, we’ll be closely monitoring the Fed’s words and actions, along with inflation rates and indicators about the health of the labor market for signals that could affect home buyer demand.”

Leading indicators of home buying activity:

  • For the week ending February 9, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 6.12%, up slightly from 6.09% the prior week, but down from the 2022 peak of 7.08% in November. The daily average was 6.32% on February 9, up from 5.99% a week earlier.
  • Mortgage purchase applications during the week ending February 3 increased 3% from a week earlier, seasonally adjusted. Purchase applications were down 37% from a year earlier.
  • The seasonally adjusted Redfin Homebuyer Demand Index hit its highest level since September during the week ending February 5. It was up 21% from its October trough but down 25% from a year earlier.
  • Google searches for “homes for sale” were up about 38% from their November low during the week ending February 4, but down about 23% from a year earlier.

Key housing market takeaways for 400+ metro areas:

Unless otherwise noted, this data covers the four-week period ending February 5. Redfin’s weekly housing market data goes back through 2015.

  • The median home sale price was $346,769, up 0.9% year over year.
  • Median sale prices fell in 18 of the 50 most populous metros, with the biggest drops in Oakland, California (-9.7% YoY); Austin, Texas (-6.5%); Sacramento (-5.8%); San Francisco (-4.9%) and Phoenix (-4.6%). Prices increased most in Milwaukee (12.8%), West Palm Beach, Florida (12.3%), Indianapolis (10.1%), Fort Lauderdale, Florida (9.8%) and Miami (8.4%).
  • The median asking price of newly listed homes was $376,160, up 1.7% year over year.
  • The monthly mortgage payment on the median-asking-price home was $2,376 at a 6.12% mortgage rate, the current weekly average. That’s down $131 (-5.2%) from the October peak. Monthly mortgage payments are up 25.1% ($477) from a year ago.
  • Pending home sales were down 19.5% year over year, the smallest decline since September.
  • Among the 50 most populous metros, pending sales fell most in Las Vegas (-58.7% YoY), Nashville (-50.6%), Phoenix (-50.1%), San Jose (-49.7%) and Austin (-48.9%). Pending sales rose in two metros: Cincinnati (31.5%) and Chicago (31.4%).
  • New listings of homes for sale fell 16.5% year over year. That’s the smallest decline since September.
  • New listings fell in all 50 of the most populous metros. They declined most in Oakland (-40.5%), Sacramento (-39%), San Jose (-38.1%), San Diego (-38%) and Las Vegas (-37.6%). They fell by less than 1% in Nashville, Dallas and Austin.
  • Active listings (the number of homes listed for sale at any point during the period) were up 22.6% from a year earlier.
  • Months of supply—a measure of the balance between supply and demand, calculated by the number of months it would take for the current inventory to sell at the current sales pace—was 4.1 months, up from 2.2 months a year earlier.
  • 42% of homes that went under contract had an accepted offer within the first two weeks on the market, the highest level since July, but down from 50% a year earlier.
  • Homes that sold were on the market for a median of 50 days. That’s up from 34 days a year earlier and the record low of 18 days set in May.
  • 20% of homes sold above their final list price, down from 39% a year earlier and the lowest level since March 2020.
  • On average, 5.4% of homes for sale each week had a price drop, up from 2.1% a year earlier.

The average sale-to-list price ratio, which measures how close homes are selling to their final asking prices, fell to 97.7% from 100% a year earlier. That’s the lowest level since March 2020.

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