National Data

Mixed Signals for Peak Home Buying Season

By Mike Simonsen on May 13, 2024


Stay up to date

Stay up to date

Back to main Blog
Mike Simonsen

Mike Simonsen is the founder and president of real estate analytics firm Altos Research, which has provided national and local real estate data to financial institutions, real estate professionals, and investors across the country for more than 15 years. An expert trendspotter, Mike uses Altos data to identify market shifts months before they hit the headlines.

As we hit peak home buying season in the US, the signals across the country are mixed at best, with some markets accelerating a bit and others slowing very quickly. Inventory continues to build across the country, most rapidly in the south. 

Home sales volume continues to run just a little ahead of last year, but with mortgage rates in the 7s, there are just a ton of potential homebuyers sitting on the sidelines. So the pace of sales isn’t breaking out. Instead we have just a few more sales than a year ago, and that gap is not really improving. 

While you’ll hear headlines tracking home prices up maybe 5-6% over last year at this time, the real-time and leading indicators for home prices we track at Altos are showing weaker growth than that. In fact, some of the indicators are showing no price gains at all over last year. So look for the home price headlines to drop down in the second half of the year.

Every week Altos Research tracks every home for sale in the country. We analyze all the pricing, supply and demand, and all the changes in that data and we make it available to you before you see it in the traditional channels. If you aren’t using Altos market reports with your clients, your buyers and sellers, now might be the time to step up. Go to and book a free consult with our team. Because everyone is worried about what’s happening right now. They need you to help them see clearly. The data we cover here in these national videos is available for every zip code in the US. Join us to dive in.

I’m Mike Simonsen, I’m the founder of Altos Research. Let’s look at the data for the week of May 13, 2024. Please refer to the video below for all the charts I mention in this transcript!




There are now 568,000 single family homes unsold on the market. That’s up 1.5% for the week. Not a massive gain, but inventory is growing and will continue to grow over the next few months. There are 35% more homes on the market than a year ago. That gap from last year continues to expand. We’re currently expecting 700,000 homes unsold on the market by the end of September.  In the webinar on Thursday we’ll take time to examine the inventory forecast nationally and for many of the local markets. 

This inventory chart is a handy way to illustrate how sensitive consumers are to changes in mortgage rates. Remember back in 2022, as mortgage rates were rising so quickly, so was inventory. At that time in May inventory was climbing by like 3-4% each week. That’s the light red line here. See how it was curving dramatically higher each week? By mid-May, inventory in 2022 was climbing and had overtaken the year prior and we were moving out of the pandemic era. You can compare the curve then to this year, the dark line. Inventory is climbing now, by 5-10-15,000 properties per week. In 2022, inventory was climbing by 20 or 30,000 each week. This is a very different market now. 

Last year the biggest inventory gain all year was about 6,000 properties. See how the red line from last year was flatter all year long. Inventory in 2023 didn’t really accelerate until mortgage rates jumped over 8% in September. And we have more sellers now as rates have stayed higher for longer. Those high rates let unsold homes accumulate on the market a bit. 

This forecast will compress a bit if mortgage rates finally decline. They haven’t come down yet so inventory keeps building.


New Listings


Slightly fewer new listings hit the market this week, 69,000 single family homes newly listed, plus another 20,000 listed that are already in contract. That’s actually 3% fewer new listings than last week, which is a little disappointment. I am still feeling optimistic that more sellers will help this market grow. So I’m hoping for that new listings number to be over 100,000 sellers each week. We only had 89,000 total, so that’s a bit of a disappointment. 

Still there were 10% more sellers this week than last year at this time. There were more new listings unsold, more immediate sales, and there are 24% more houses marketed as “coming soon”. All of these indicate that total inventory will keep growing. And that sales volume has room to grow because there is simply more supply available. 

This series can bounce around - for a lot of reasons - from week to week. In the New Listings chart here each line is a year. You can see how they squiggle. The gray lines are past years. The takeaway on the new listings chart is that a healthy market would be like the past years where there were 100,000 or more new listings in a given week. We have more sellers than last year, but not a lot. Hopefully a few more weeks where this series climbs.


The total count of homes in contract is just barely above last year. There are now 393,000 single family homes in contract, that’s an increase of a tiny fraction from last week. And there are just 2 percent more homes in contract now than a year ago. So these are homes that are in the contract pending process, in escrow to close. These sales will close in May and June. Showing a little growth over last year, but not much.

There were 72,000 new sales this week, which was about 7% fewer than the week prior, but still 6% more than the same week a year prior. Each week more sales are getting done than a year ago.

In this chart we have the total number of homes in escrow to close for each of the past three years. Home sales peak in June. There are 2% more homes in contract now than a year ago, but 15% fewer home sales than in 2022. See the light red line for 2022 there were 460,000 single family homes in contract to sell at this time in May. The pace of sales fell dramatically in July of that year and again in September when mortgage rates spiked again. By the end of 2022 - at the right end of the chart - the pace of sales was way off, setting 2023 up to be such a drought. 

This year sales are slowly inching higher.  I think it’s interesting that we continue to have about 5-6-7% more homes going into contract each week, but the total homes in contract is only 2 or 3% more than a year ago. I think what’s happening is that home sales are closing faster than last year. We’re measuring fewer days in contract. In 2022, the days in contract grew to close to 40 days as the market slowed. This year we’re measuring the average days in contract at about 33. You can imagine that home sales get delayed as financing changes rapidly as happened last year.  This year there are for example more cash sales, so you don’t have to wait for financing to close a transaction. So last year not only were fewer sales starting, they were taking longer to close. These nuances help explain why we see more sales happening but many of the measures of the mortgage market have not yet grown above last year’s pace. 


Home Prices

Let’s look at home prices. The median price of single family homes in the US is $450,000 now. That is unchanged from a year ago. See how the lines are converging in this chart? That shows home prices are no higher than a year ago.

The price of the new listings this week was also pretty close to $450,000. That was up for the week. The change in the new listings prices is actually a contrary bullish indicator for future prices. It’s the series that’s up, while the others are flat or compressing compared to last year. 
We’re probably right at peak for the year in the next week or two of this series. New Listings prices typically peak in May and then the market shifts towards the second half of the year.

The price of the homes in contract is $400,000. That’s unchanged for the week and up just 4% over last year at this time. So the homes you have to choose from in the US are listed at $450,000, but the price point we want to buy is $400k. The list prices are flat from a year ago. Pending prices are just a little above last year.

In both of these cases we see the tendency for prices to cluster around the big round numbers. If you’re selling your home somewhere around $450,000, for attention and marketing purposes it’s better to price it right at $450,000 or $449,000 than it is to price at $451k for example. So prices hit these plateaus at the big numbers then they jump. Right now the list prices are plateaued at $450,000 and the sales prices are plateaued at $400,000.

In this chart you can see the annual trajectory for home prices. This is the asking price for all the homes on the market. I want to highlight this asking price series now, because you can see how prices climb in the first half of the year to peak in June.  In 2022, the light red was still climbing quickly with the last of the momentum from the pandemic. I’ve highlighted the June 2022 section here in gray. 

Last year the red line showed how home prices grew much more slowly in the first half of the year, the slope is lower, but stayed more elevated in the second half of the year. At the right end of the chart you can see how the end of 2023 set us up for the home price gains we’ve seen so far in 2024. But the slope of price appreciation for this spring has been slower again and those price gains are gone. So by this measure - looking at the asking prices for all the homes on the market - home prices have zero appreciation from a year ago. Home sellers know exactly where to price their homes to sell. This tells us a ton about future sales.


Price Reductions


And as we look at the leading indicators of future homes sales prices, we’ll conclude today with the percent of homes on the market with price reductions. These price cuts are: of all the listings how many have taken a price cut from their original list price? Currently 33.7% of the homes on the market have taken a price cut. That’s up 30 basis points from last week. And 410 basis points above last year at this time.  

As you can see in the chart, there are more homes on the market now with price cuts than any recent May. You can also see that the rate is climbing each week. I’ve illustrated the last three years here in red. The gray lines are each of the years in the prior decade. Price cuts are always happening this time of year. The bulk of homes get listed in Q2 and if they don’t get offers they take price cuts. That peaks later in the year before the holidays when the seasonal cycle resets. 

What we see now, is that more homes have price cuts and a pretty significant number each week are adding to that set. If your house is listed now and it doesn’t get an offer, maybe you cut your price in June, it gets an offer in July and the sale closes in August. That’s what we’re watching right now.

And that’s why we do this data work each week. This market is trying to grow, but homebuyers are obviously sensitive to the cost of money. If you aren’t watching the data each week, you’re probably behind the curve. You have buyers and sellers who have no idea how this market is changing right now. They need to hear the data from you. If you need to help buyers and sellers see the actual data, you should join us at Altos.

Go to and book time with our team to learn more.

You can also run a free Altos real estate market report for any zip code in the U.S. and receive an update on that area in your inbox every week.

And, if you want to learn how to read and interpret all the stats in the report, I encourage you to download our free eBook: "How to Use Market Data to Build Your Real Estate Business."

See you next week!

Get the latest articles directly in your inbox, stay up to date