Thursday, February 20, 2020 / by Ken Couture
Hey, home buyers, just how stressed out are you these days?
Maybe you've finally come to grips with the crazy, sky's-the-limit prices still sweeping through most major markets. Perhaps you've made peace with the ever-looming threat of another recession. Quite possibly you've even dismissed all that stuff about a coronavirus pandemic, and you're blithely unconcerned about any aftershocks from the upcoming elections.
But when it comes to finding available homes on the market—where and when you want to buy 'em—well, that's a challenge even the most battle-tested wannabe homeowners are struggling with these days.
And make no mistake: It is a battlefield out there. The problem is, there just aren't enough homes on the market to satisfy all of the would-be buyers—and that causes prices to spike ever higher in many parts of the country.
Nationally, inventory plunged 13.6% in January compared with a year earlier, representing the biggest drop in more than four years. Few markets have been immune to the plunge. There are now 164,000 fewer homes on the market, the fewest number since 2012, when realtor.com® began collecting the data.
In some of the tightest markets, well-priced homes in the most sought-after locations can sell within a few hours of going up for sale. In others, there are enough properties for sale that buyers don't need to make a split-second decision and can be choosier.
That's why our economics team searched for the metropolitan areas where it's easiest to buy a home—and where it's not.
"Inventory is falling—even in the easiest markets to buy a home. “For buyers, it means there are fewer options to choose from, they have to make quicker decisions when they’re out there shopping, and they're probably also dealing with rising prices.”
And while this may sound like a bonanza for sellers, keep in mind that most of them are also in the market to buy a new home. So there's that.
To come up with our findings, we looked at the number of listings per 1,000 homeowner-occupied households in the 100 largest metros in the fourth quarter of 2019. The analysis was based on the number of homes for sale relative to the local population. And we narrowed our findings to one per state for some geographic variety.