The number of U.S. homes for sale dipped below 700,000 for the first time, setting a new low mark for listed inventory, according to the Monthly Housing Trends Report published by Realtor.com.
Nationally, the number of homes for sale was down by 39.6% year-over-year, with 449,000 fewer homes for sale compared to December 2019. However, newly listed homes were only down by 0.8% year-over-year, an improvement from the November data when new listings were down 8.7% from one year earlier.
On a regional basis, the Western and Northeastern larger markets recorded the greatest year-over-year gains in new listings hitting the market, up 30.8% and 15%, respectively, while the Midwest only managed a relatively anemic 0.2% increase and the South recorded a 4% decline. California’s Bay Area saw the greatest increase in new listings with a 123.8% annualized increase in San Jose and a 98.9% spike in San Francisco, while Nashville had the greatest decline for that period at 19.9%.
Realtor.com also reported the median listing price grew 13.4% year-over-year to $340,000, slightly below its peak of $350,000. Regionally, the greatest annual gains were in the Northeast (12.2%), followed by the West (+10.4%), Midwest (+8.6%), and South (+6.7%). Texas’ capital city Austin had the greatest year-over-year median listing price increase at 20%, while Minneapolis was the only major metro going in the opposite direction with a 1.6% decline.
Homes sold in 66 days on average last month, 13 days faster than in December 2019, while homes in the nation's 50 largest metros sold in only 56 days on average on market.
“The shortage of homes for sale has been an ongoing issue for the last couple of years, but in December the combination of the holiday inventory slowdown and the pandemic buying trend caused it to dip to its lowest level in history,” said Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “"Looking forward, we could see new lows in the next couple of months as buyers remain relatively active, but a surge of new COVID cases may slow the number of sellers entering the market.”
Hale added that improvements in the supply of homes for sale were being forecasted in the second half of the year, although she admitted, that “Until then, finding a home will continue to be a top challenge for buyers across all price ranges.”