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Is Home Seller Enthusiasm Waning?

The latest report from Redfin shows that home sale prices in March were still on the way up—they were 9 percent higher than a year ago, closing the month at a median $297,000 nationally.

But homes for sale were down across the board as well. Compared to March 2017, the number of homes on the market in the United States was down 12 percent. More telling, the number of newly listed homes fell 5.6 percent from last year, something Redfin classifies as “a sign of possible waning seller enthusiasm and ongoing tight market conditions.”

Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson said one explanation for the dropoff in housing movement this March might have been the fact that Easter came so early.

“Sellers are slow to list this year and we aren't seeing enough new construction homes to fill the gap," Richardson said. "If we don't see the new listings number turn around next month or a pickup in new housing starts, inventory will be a persistent drag on sales for the remainder of the year."

If seller enthusiasm is waning, buyer demand is still strong. According to Redfin, the typical home went under contract in 43 days in March. That's eight days faster than a year earlier and faster than any March on record.

Among homes that sold last month, 24 percent sold above their list price, up from 22.3 percent last March. One in five homes that sold in March went under contract within two weeks of their debut, compared to 18.4 percent last year. The Bay Area had much higher numbers than the average, though. In San Jose, 83 percent of houses sold above list price. In San Francisco and Oakland, three-quarters of houses sold higher than listed.

Seattle (for the second month in a row) and Denver were the fastest-moving markets in the country. Houses there were on the market for a median of just seven days in March. The Bay Area also saw houses close in less than two weeks.

As is typically the case, prices grew most in the Bay Area. San Jose saw prices leap by 32 percent from a year ago; San Francisco almost 17 percent.

But less-typical markets showed price growth as well. Allentown, Pennsylvania, saw prices climb 22 percent since last year, just 1 percent more than the prices in Detroit.  

At the same time, inventory dropped in 65 of the 73 most populous metros Redfin tracked. In 48 of those metros, inventory fell more than 10 percent compared to last year. Baton Rouge; Washington, D.C.; and Allentown bucked the declining inventory trend, respectively adding 26.6 percent, 11.8 percent, and 11.4 percent to housing supply from last year.

About Author: Scott Morgan

Scott Morgan is a multi-award-winning journalist and editor based out of Texas. During his 11 years as a newspaper journalist, he wrote more than 4,000 published pieces. He's been recognized for his work since 2001, and his creative writing continues to win acclaim from readers and fellow writers alike. He is also a creative writing teacher and the author of several books, from short fiction to written works about writing.
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