December 2020 Monthly Housing Market Trends

Dated: January 13 2021

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Number of Homes for Sale Hits a New Low.

  • National inventory declined by 39.6% over the last year, and fell below 700,000 for the first time in our records.

  • The inventory of newly listed properties declined by 0.8% nationally and grew by 7.6% for large metros over the past year. 

  • The December national median listing price was $340,000, up 13.4% compared to last year. Large metros saw an average price gain of 8.8% compared to last year.

  • Nationally, the typical home spent 66 days on the market in December, 13 days less than the same time last year.®’s December housing data release reveals that home buyers and sellers were much more active this holiday season compared to last year. Home listing prices continued to increase at double-digit rates compared to last year, fueled by buyer demand, which also continued to snap up homes at a rate almost two weeks more quickly than last year. This past month, seller activity also improved, with new listings growing in many large markets, especially in the West and Northeast. While seller activity has been inconsistent throughout the pandemic, the continued addition of new listings could provide much-needed relief to a tight housing market in the spring. 

Seller Activity Hinting at Recovery as New Listings Improve, But Inventory Continues to Decline

Nationally, the inventory of homes for sale in December decreased by 39.6% over the past year, a slightly higher rate of decline compared to the 39.2% drop in November. This amounted to 449,000 fewer homes for sale compared to December of last year, and a new low of less than 700,000 active listings for the first time in our records. However, seller activity saw some improvement in December, when sellers listed new homes for sale at a rate almost the same as the previous year. New listings were only down 0.8% year-over-year nationally, an improvement over a drop of 8.7% in November. Declining total for-sale inventory when sellers are listing homes roughly on pace with a year ago suggests that buyers are still very active in the housing market, perhaps looking to lock-in record-low mortgage rates.

Housing inventory in the 50 largest U.S. metros overall declined by 38.6% over last year in December, a slight improvement from last month’s 38.9% decline. Regionally, newly listed homes grew most in the West (+30.8% year-over-year) and Northeast (+15.0%), while remaining flat in the Midwest (+0.2%) and still in decline in the South (-4.0%). 

The West’s combined average surge in new listings is primarily attributed to San Jose (+123.8%) and San Francisco (+98.9%), which saw far more new listings this December compared to 2019. Markets that are still seeing the largest decline in newly listed homes include Nashville (-19.9%), Memphis (-18.5%), and Charlotte (-16.0%). However, all three of these markets have seen the rate of decline improve compared to last month. Overall, newly listed homes in the largest 50 metros increased by 7.6% compared to last year.

Pace of Home Sales Remains Much Faster Than Previous Year Through the Holidays

Homes for sale in December were being scooped up more quickly than last year, as buyer demand continues even through the holiday season. The typical home spent 66 days on the market this December, which is 13 days less than last year. 

In the 50 largest U.S. metros, the typical home spent 56 days on the market, and homes spent 12 days less on the market, on average, compared to last December. Among these 50 largest metros, the time a typical property spends on the market has improved at similar rates across all four regions. In the Midwest and South, properties now typically spend 13 fewer days on the market than last year, in northeastern markets the typical property spends 12 fewer days on the market, and in western metros, the typical property spends 11 fewer days on the market. 

Among larger metropolitan areas, homes saw the greatest decline in time spent on the market compared to last year in Virginia Beach (-28 days); Hartford (-23 days); and Louisville (-23 days). Only four markets saw time on market increase compared to the previous year. These four markets were San Diego (+6 days), Miami (+5 days), Buffalo (+3 days), and New York (+2 days). Despite the large inflow of new listings in San Jose and San Francisco, homes in these markets are still selling at an increasingly fast pace compared to last year.    

Median Home Listing Price Continues Steady Double-Digit Growth

The median national home listing price grew by 13.4% over last year, to $340,000 in December, higher than last month’s growth rate of 12.7%. The nation’s median listing price per square foot also grew by 15.9% compared to last year, an acceleration from the 15.4% growth seen last month. Listing prices in the nation’s largest metros grew by an average of 8.8% compared to last year, the same as last month. Among the largest 50 metros, prices are increasing most in northeastern markets, where they are now growing at an average rate of 12.2% over last year, compared to a growth rate of 10.4% for western metros, 8.6% for midwestern metros, and 6.7% for southern metros.  

Austin (+20.0%), Riverside-San Bernardino (17.2%), and New Orleans (+16.8%) posted the highest year-over-year median list price growth in December. Minneapolis was the only metro on our list of the largest 50 which saw declining prices. Its median listing price fell by 1.6% year-over-year in December.  

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Brian McCarthy

Brian is a real estate sales professional with a passion for providing excellent customer service, speedy communication and upholding the highest standard of professionalism. Catering to specialized n....

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