Signs point to more inventory this spring: Altos – HousingWire

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The U.S. real estate housing market signals have been gradually building for a couple of months. Home sellers are starting to ease back into the market, new listings are finally exceeding the levels of a year ago. As a result, we’re starting to see slightly more available supply of homes on the market. This is an expansion of the market from incredibly restricted levels last year. It’s a positive development. 

The longer we stay with mortgage rates higher, the more inventory will build closer to where it used to be. Each year we’ll have 5 million more people who don’t have crazy low rates that they want to hold onto forever. Mortgage rates are higher than they were a year ago. Higher than they were a month ago. Higher mortgage rates means more inventory. 

If mortgage rates fall into the 5s this spring, you should expect the available inventory to decline as demand picks up rapidly. But as of now, rates are holding in the upper 6s and inventory is building slowly. 

It is important to keep in mind that home sales are climbing with inventory. As supply comes to the market, that’s lifting one of the restrictions that kept the home sales so low last year. The number of homes for sale and the number that are being sold are both climbing into 2024 over last year.

Inventory ticked up

There are just over 505,000 single family homes on the market across the U.S. That’s a 1.2% increase over last week and nearly 7% more than last year at this time. Inventory ticked up this week. This week the supply of active inventory gained over 6000 homes. That would have been a big week any time last year.

These are the signals that point to growing inventory of homes on the market all spring. Even if inventory ticks down next week, it looks like that will be a smaller move down than last year, so the year-over-year percentage gain will continue to widen. 

Slightly more sellers

Inventory is building now because we have slightly more sellers each week. The market had about 49,000 new listings this week. 9,000 of those are already in contract. Leaving 40,000 New listings to add to the market which is about a 5% increase versus last year. 

It sure looks now like we’ll have more sellers each week all year long than we did in 2023.

The other side of the equation to keep watch is the purchase side. I’ve called this a supply constrained market. So as the inventory shortage eases just a bit, we should also see more transactions happening. And sure enough, that’s what we’re seeing. There continues to be more new contracts each week than last year at this same time. The pace of home sales is growing. It’s not a boom. but the market is growing.

Price cuts stable

Let’s move on to the price signals. Remember that in 2023, even though we had very few home sales, home prices inched up a bit nationwide. We’re looking at similar dynamics for 2024.

Price reductions continue to decline with the new inventory after the first of the year. Some 32.2% of the homes on the market have had a price reduction. That’s right in the middle of the normal range. This implies slight home price strength in general for the next few months. If rates fall from here into the 5s, watch demand pick up and we’ll immediately see fewer sellers need to cut their prices. 

The median price of single-family homes is just a hair under $420,000. Home prices ticked up almost half a percent this week. And the median price of single-family homes right now is 3% higher than last year at this time. In this market where supply and demand is pretty balanced, home prices are not going to skyrocket of course and there is no sign of prices dropping either. As inventory grows, and sales rates grow, home prices are reliably ticking up each week as well. That trend hasn’t changed. 

The median price of the newly listed homes is $389,900. That corrected back down from last week’s big jump.

We should be grateful that the market is expanding with more supply and more sales for more people than in 2023. 

Mike Simonsen is the president and founder of Altos Research.

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