Realtors, Your Buyers Are On Notice: Act Quickly & Be Prepared to Pay

2021 kicks off with record low inventory and rising home prices, foreshadowing a competitive home-buying season

  • Number of homes for sale hit a new low down nearly 43% compared to last year; active listings fall below 600,000 for the first time since 2012
  • New listings declined more than 23% year-over-year
  • The median listing price increased 15.4% over last year to $346,000
  • The typical home sold in 76 days, 10 days faster than a year ago

If January provides any insight into what to expect this spring, home shoppers are in for another fiercely competitive home-buying season with record low inventory pushing prices higher and homes selling more quickly, according to the®  Monthly Housing Trends Report released today, which shows buyers returning to the market in earnest at the start of the year.

“Demand for housing was already strong coming into the year and we don’t see that slowing down with millennials reaching prime home-buying age, and many remote workers still in the market for more space,” said® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “At the same time, sellers failed to materialize in January, which has pushed the number of homes for sale to new lows and suggests that our new normal of rising prices and brisk sales is here to stay at least through the first half of the year. Those thinking of getting into the market this spring should brace themselves for a competitive season, especially in the market for existing homes.”

Strong buyer demand and a lack of sellers push inventory to new lows

The number of homes for sale in the U.S. in January was down 42.6% year-over-year, a new low that translated into 443,000 fewer homes for sale compared to the same time a year ago. Active listings also fell below 600,000 for the first time since began tracking the metric in 2012. Despite an uptick in sellers toward the end of December, newly listed homes were down 23.2% nationally year-over-year in January. This is a marked contrast from single-family construction trends for new homes which have seen 20% or greater year-over-year increases in both starts and permits in each of the last four months.

Housing inventory in the 50 largest U.S. metros overall declined by 41.8% over last year in January, up from December’s 38.6% decline. New listings in the 50 largest U.S. metros were down 17.3% year-over-year with Cleveland, Jacksonville, Fla. and Memphis, Tenn. registering the largest drops at 37.1%, 36.9% and 32.6%, respectively. Of the 50 largest metros, two Northern California markets — San Jose and San Francisco — and Denver saw an increase in the number of newly listed homes at 24.8%,14.4%, and 1.8%, respectively.  

Homes sell fast with Virginia Beach, Va., Sacramento and Birmingham, Ala., leading the decline in days on market

The typical U.S. home spent 76 days on the market in January, 10 days less than last year. The decline in days on market slowed compared to December 2020, when homes sold 13 days more quickly than the previous year.

In the 50 largest U.S. metros, the typical home spent 60 days on the market — 12 days less on average, compared to January 2020. Homes saw the greatest decline in time spent on the market in Virginia Beach (-27 days); Sacramento (-24 days), and Birmingham, Ala. (-22 days). Only two markets — New York (+11 days) and Miami (+5 days) — saw time on market increase compared to the previous year.   

Home listing prices continue to go up, up, up

The median national home listing price grew by 15.4% over last year to $346,000 in January, higher than December’s growth rate of 13.4%. The nation’s median listing price per square foot was up 17.5% in January compared to last year.

Listing prices in the nation’s 50 largest metros grew by an average of 10.9% from a year ago  with listing prices increasing the most — 16.8% — in the Northeast. Prices jumped 12.3% in the West, 10.4% in the Midwest and 8.0% in the South year-over-year.

At the metro level, Austin, Texas, (+30.2%), Rochester, N.Y., (25.9%), and Los Angeles (+22.4%) posted the highest year-over-year median list price growth in January. Miami (-3.2%), and Minneapolis (-0.4%) were the only top 50 metros to see listing prices decline year-over-year in January.   

Metros With the Largest Decline in Active Listings

MetroActive Listing Count YoYMedian Listing Price YoYMedian Listing PriceMedian Days on Market Y-YMedian Days on MarketNew Listing Count YoY
Austin-Round Rock, Texas-67.4%30.2%$460,000-1556-31.2%
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.-60.6%17.9%$485,000-2248-29.4%
Raleigh, N.C.-57.2%8.5%$395,000-1857-26.8%
Jacksonville, Fla.-56.1%2.4%$325,000-2060-36.9%
Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.-54.8%4.2%$244,000-1760-32.6%
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas-54.8%6.3%$361,000-1749-24.4%
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.-54.6%13.8%$455,000-2142-21.5%
Providence-Warwick, R.I.-Mass.-54.0%16.1%$432,000-1757-15.9%
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md.-53.8%3.1%$325,000-1959-19.5%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.-53.0%8.2%$302,000-957-31.8%
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif.-52.0%19.8%$599,000-2436-15.3%
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.-52.0%14.1%$365,000-1451-27.9%
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y.-51.9%21.3%$240,000-1358-29.2%
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich-51.7%16.0%$265,000-1060-25.7%
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, Tenn.-51.5%8.4%$400,000-1138-26.6%
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C.-51.2%11.8%$385,000-1459-29.0%
Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio-50.8%8.5%$198,000-1468-37.1%
Columbus, Ohio-50.8%7.7%$307,000-1953-22.8%
Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind.-49.7%4.2%$250,000-2151-28.5%
Oklahoma City, Okla.-49.6%7.0%$278,000-1054-31.6%
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind.-49.5%3.0%$279,000-1764-22.7%
San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas-49.1%2.5%$295,000-1262-25.7%
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.-49.0%9.2%$525,000-2052-5.5%
Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.-49.0%11.5%$363,000-1277-23.2%
Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.-47.6%15.9%$310,000-1363-26.8%
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis.-47.3%11.3%$320,000-862-32.2%
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C.-47.2%1.6%$315,000-2748-18.3%
Richmond, Va.-47.1%19.3%$388,000-1951-9.5%
Rochester, N.Y.-47.1%25.9%$275,000-463-12.2%
Pittsburgh, Pa.-44.5%N/A$245,000-1086-25.2%
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.-42.4%0.5%$535,000-12511.8%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md.-42.1%13.1%$328,000-1470-14.8%
St. Louis, Mo.-Ill.-41.4%16.6%$250,000-784-10.9%
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn.-39.2%10.1%$303,000-2260-18.6%
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.-39.0%10.9%$665,000-1453N/A
New Orleans-Metairie, La.-37.9%14.3%$320,000-1670-18.5%
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis.-37.5%11.7%$338,000-963-22.2%
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis.-36.4%-0.4%$370,000-1254-10.0%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas-35.8%11.7%$340,000-1358-18.2%
Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.-34.5%4.5%$264,000-2264-10.3%
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W. Va.-32.7%4.2%$500,000-2048-4.1%
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.-30.8%0.0%$320,000-269-17.2%
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.-29.7%13.6%$670,000-1664-0.4%
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla.-25.8%-3.2%$400,000595-15.6%
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev.-23.8%6.6%$345,000-957-13.0%
San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.-21.1%15.7%$850,000N/A80-18.4%
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif.-16.6%22.4%$1,150,000-577-3.7%
New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa.-5.8%14.4%$629,00011101-9.6%
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.18.2%9.1%$990,000-14814.4%
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.19.0%9.0%$1,199,000-133824.8%

*Some data for Pittsburgh, Seattle and San Diego has been excluded due to data quality.

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