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Real Estate

Is housing market demand starting to weaken?

Pending sales and purchase applications decrease

Nearly 50% of homes sold for more than their list price during the four weeks ending May 16, but there are signs that housing market demand may be reaching its peak, according to a recent study from Redfin.

Pending sales for the seven-day period ending May 16 were down 10% from four weeks prior, compared to an 8% increase during the same period in 2019. Mortgage purchase applications also decreased 4% week over week.

“Make no mistake, the housing market is still very hot and will remain hot for the rest of the year,” said Daryl Fairweather, Redfin chief economist. “But there may be signs that some buyers would rather spend their money on restaurants, vacations, and other things they have held back on for the past year, instead of on housing now that the threat of the pandemic is dissipating in America.”

New listings of homes for sale were down 12% from the same period in 2019, and active listings — the number of homes listed for sale at any point during the period — fell 49% from the same period in 2019. (2019 is being used as a reference point since 2020 data is skewed by the pandemic.)

This is happening, of course, with prices remaining astronomically high. Home prices were recently reported at a record high of $352,975, and were up 24% year over year. Asking prices increased to $358,975, also a record high. Homes in May are also on the market for an average of only 17 days.


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Mortgage rates also spiked in the last week, jumping six basis points to 3% — a possible detriment to would-be homebuyers who were eyeballing the sub-3% rates the country saw earlier this year and during the peak months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regional numbers also reflect the enormous difference in housing market demand from April 2020.

The number of homes sold in April was up 34% from a year earlier, but only 8% from the same time in 2019. The only metro area that saw home sales decline was Rochester, New York (-3%). The largest gains in sales were in places that had the most abrupt slowdown of home sales in April 2020, including San Francisco (up 184%), San Jose (up 150%), and Miami (up 120%).

Median home prices increased from a year earlier in all of the 85 largest metro areas Redfin tracks. The smallest increase was in Honolulu, Hawaii, where prices went up 0.2% from a year ago. The largest home price increases were in Austin (up 42%), Oxnard, California (up 26%) and Miami (up 26%).

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