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Low Rates Keeping the Winter Market Strong

Looming threats of rising interest rates coming this year are pushing more homeseekers into the market who are eager to get into a home before those threats become a reality. 

According to the latest Monthly Housing Market Trends Report [1] by Realtor.com [2], national inventory of active listings declined by 26.8% over last year, while the total inventory of unsold homes, including pending listings, declined by 16.1%. The inventory of active listings is down 57.1% compared to 2019. 

All-in-all, this represents 177,000 fewer homes actively for sale on a typical day in December compared to the previous year. 

In addition, newly listed homes are down 6.1% nationally compared to a year ago, and down 7.6% for large metropolitan areas over the past year. Sellers are still listing at rates 12.9% lower than pre-pandemic levels seen in 2017 to 2019. 

"December data offers a fitting finish to the frenzy of the past year. Annual listing price growth hit double-digits again nationwide and in many of the hottest markets, after four months of single-digit pace this fall," said Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale [3]. "Despite buyer challenges like rising prices, limited inventory and fast-paced sales, real estate activity maintained a brisk pace throughout 2021 as factors like low mortgage rates enabled home shoppers to persist. With rate hikes now on the horizon, buyers may be trying to get ahead of higher monthly housing costs, in turn driving up competition and prices. Our 2022 Forecast anticipates affordability challenges this year, but also that trends like rising incomes and workplace flexibility could offer some Americans a better shot at finding a home. For those who weren't successful in 2021, we expect better luck in the coming months as more sellers plan to enter the market – and if December's listings are an indication, with high asking prices in mind." 

The report also pegged the national median home sale price in December to be $375,000, a 10% annualized increase. But not all homes appreciated equally: the price of a typical 2,000 square foot single-family home increased at an even faster rate; now up 18.6% year-over-year. 

Homes are also selling at a faster clip than this time last year. The report found that the typical home sold in 54 days, 11 days faster than last year but seven days slower than in November. 

Click here [1] to view the report in its entirety, including a breakdown of data for the top-50 metro areas.