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More than 200,000 New Listings Are Missing from U.S. Housing Market, According to February Housing Report

March 04 2021

Extreme weather across most of the country pushed new listings to a record low that will be difficult to dig out from, while prices hit a new high

SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 4, 2021 -- February's extreme weather throughout the U.S. exacerbated the housing market's inventory woes, pushing the pace of new listings coming onto the market further behind pre-pandemic levels, according to the Monthly Housing Trends Report released today. Unless the trend reverses itself, buyers will be in for a much more competitive homebuying season than last year.

"Last month's record cold and snowstorms likely caused sellers to hit pause, even if only temporarily," said® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. "However, in today's inventory-starved market, any setback is significant. Unless we see some big improvements in the new listings trends over the coming months buyers can expect stiff competition. And unlike last spring, buyers may also face affordability challenges as home prices and mortgage rates increase. Market dynamics continue to favor sellers."

According to® data, 14.8% of the year's total new listings came to market in January and February in 2017-2019, and new listings in these months were an even bigger share in 2020 as COVID scared off many would-be sellers later in the year. Approximately 207,000 fewer homes were newly listed for sale during the first two months of 2021, compared with the average for those two months over the last four years. New listings would need to increase by 25% year-over-year in March and April to bring the year to date figure back to April 2020's levels.

Severe winter storms across the U.S. drive inventory down further

The number of homes for sale in the U.S. in February was down 48.6% year-over-year, a new low that translated into 496,000 fewer homes for sale. New listings were down 24.5% year-over-year, with the biggest drop -- 35.2% -- occurring in the third week of February, the most extreme weather week of a very cold and snowy month. New listings recovered to a smaller decline of 26.9% year-over-year in February's final week as conditions eased.

Housing inventory in the 50 largest U.S. metros declined by 47.4% over last year in February, an increase from January's 41.8% decline. New listings in the 50 largest U.S. metros were down 23.5% year-over-year. For some metros, the declines were far more significant with new listings falling 47% in Oklahoma City, Okla., 45% in Kansas City, Mo.-Kan. and 40% in Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. Two of three metros with increases in new listings were in California. New listings were up 13.6% in San Jose, Calif., followed by San Francisco (1.1%), and Denver (1.1%) year-over-year.

Listing prices reach new high

In February, the median national home listing price grew 13.7% over last year to $353,000, surpassing last year's peak price unseasonably early. The slowdown from last month's growth rate of 15.4% was likely due to a change in the mix of homes for sale.

Listing prices in the nation's 50 metros grew by an average of 11.5%, compared to last year. Regionally, the Northeast saw the biggest jump in listing prices, increasing at an average rate of 16.8% over last year. Prices were up 11.7% in the West, 10.9% in the Midwest and 9.5% in the South.

At the metro level, Austin, Texas, (+37.2%), Rochester, N.Y. (+27.6%) and Buffalo, N.Y. (+25.0%) posted the highest year-over-year median listing price growth in February. Miami (-2.7%), Denver (-1.7%), and Orlando, Fla. (-1.1%), were the only top 50 metros to see their median listing price decline year-over-year in February.

Buyers need to act fast

The typical home spent 70 days on the market in February, 11 days less than last year. Time on market was even faster in the 50 largest U.S. metros where the typical home sold in 48 days, 12 days less than a year ago. Homes saw the greatest decline in time spent on the market compared to last year in Austin, Texas (-36 days), Charlotte, N.C. (-28 days) and Portland, Ore. (-27 days).

Metros With the Largest Decline in Newly Listed Homes


*Some data for Pittsburgh, New York, and San Diego has been excluded due to data quality.

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