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Inventory Just Hit a 2021 High, which Means More Choices for Fall Buyers

October 03 2021

U.S. inventory declines continued to shrink (-22.2% year-over-year) despite a dip in new listings in September

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 30, 2021 -- New housing data shows inventory hit a 2021 high in September, giving buyers more choices than they have had all year, according to the® Monthly Housing Report released today. Nearly one-third of the 50 largest metros continued to see increases in newly-listed homes compared to last year and in Austin, Texas; Portland, Ore.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Washington, D.C., new listings were up more than 10% year-over-year.

"Put simply, this September buyers had more options than they've had all year and while that's typical of early fall, that's not what happened in 2020. Still, it's important to remember that while buyers may have an easier time this fall than they did in the spring, the market remains more competitive than it has been historically at this time of year," said® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. "There are fewer homes for sale than last year and less than half as many as two years ago; homes are also selling a lot faster. With new listings in September dipping below last year for the first time in 5 months, next month's data will yield important clues about whether this setback is going to be temporary or a new trend."

Inventory holds steady despite the first new-listings dip in 5 months

The U.S. supply of for-sale homes reached a new 2021 high in September, as buyers continued to see steady improvement in the number of active listings compared to earlier this year, the typical seasonal pattern that was notably missing in 2020. The pace at which inventory has been closing-in on the yearly gap slipped in September.

  • Nationally, available inventory – or active listings on® without a contract – reached a new 2021 high of 646,053 for-sale homes in September.
    • U.S. housing inventory declined 22.2% year-over-year in September, an improvement over August (-25.8%), but is still less than half (-52.5%) of typical 2017-2019 levels.
    • Compared to the national rate, inventory declines were improving more quickly in the 50 largest U.S. metros, down by an average of 18.5% year-over-year.
  • Overall new listings posted an annual decline nationwide (-3.9%) for the first time in five months in September, while newly-listed entry-level single-family homes continued to rise (+8.0%).
  • Although the 50 largest U.S. markets saw an average new listings decline of 3.4% year-over-year in September, nearly one-third (16) of those metros continued to post new listings gains, on par with August.
    • The biggest new listings growth was seen in Austin, Texas (+19.9%), Portland, Ore. (+16.3%), Jacksonville, Fla. (+15.1%) and Washington, D.C. (+10.7%).
  • Among the areas with the biggest drops in newly-listed homes in September were those affected by Hurricane Ida, including the Northeast (-5.4%) and South (-3.2%), as well as the West (-4.7%) where wildfires may have delayed new sellers' plans to enter the market. Uncertainty from resurgent COVID cases, which had an outsized impact on sellers earlier in the pandemic, may also be playing a role.
    • Hard-hit metros in these regions registered the highest yearly new listings declines, including New Orleans (-51.2%), Hartford, Conn. (-22.4%), Miami (-14.5%) and Los Angeles (-14.5%).

Sellers can still cash in but should check expectations against recent local trends

September data also offered good news for sellers as listing prices remained historically-high nationwide. However, September pricing trends reflected more normal seasonal cooling compared to fall 2020, offering buyers some lower cost options, after the double-digit growth seen from August 2020 through July 2021.

  • The U.S. median home price held at last month's near record-high of $380,000 and grew at the same annual rate (+8.6%) in September, and was up 20.6% from 2019.
  • In further signs of some sellers competing more for buyers, the share of active listings with price adjustments grew for the second month in a row in September, up 1.5% year-over-year to 17.9% of active listings.
  • In the nation's 50 largest metros, home prices increased by an average of 4.1% year-over-year in September, an uptick from the August yearly growth rate (+3.5%).
    • The West (+9.1%) and South (+7.9%) posted the biggest regional price gains over last year.
    • Additionally, western and southern metros dominated the top five list of markets by highest price growth: Austin (+33.6%), Las Vegas (+24.6%), Tampa (+20.8%), Orlando (+16.9%) and Riverside, Calif. (+15.4%).

Time on market follows more normal seasonality compared to last fall

In September, homes sat on the market for slightly longer compared to the feverish pace seen over the summer, giving buyers relatively more time to make decisions. Time on market remains faster than in 2019-2020, but is following more typical seasonality compared to 2020 when homes sold fastest during the Fall.

  • The typical U.S. home spent 43 days on the market in September, an increase over the record-fast pace seen in June (37 days), but home sales were still faster than in 2020 (-11 days) and 2019 (-22 days).
  • Homes sold at a faster pace than the national median in the 50 largest metros in September (37 days), on average, but the gap from last year is shrinking more quickly (-7 days). Time on market trends varied depending on where you live:
    • The South saw the fastest home sales compared to last year (-12 days), with the biggest metro-level declines seen in southern cities like Miami (-32 days) and Raleigh (-29 days).
    • Five metros saw a yearly increase in time on market in September: Washington, D.C. (+7 days), San Diego (+7 days), Philadelphia (+4 days), Buffalo (+2 days) and Baltimore (+2 days).

rdc 2021 September Housing Report


Housing data as of September 2021. Listings include the active inventory of existing single-family homes and condos/townhomes for the given level of geography on®; new construction is excluded unless listed via the MLS. In this analysis, entry-level homes are defined as 750-1,750 square-foot single family homes.

In this release, price adjustments are defined as home listings that had their price reduced in September 2021. Listings that had their prices increased during the month are excluded. In September, the count of listing price reductions was more than 8 times higher than the count of listing price increases.

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