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 this housing market sits at a standstill, I keep looking in the data for signs of real chaos. If you’ve been watching these videos each week you know that inventory started climbing in September when mortgage rates spiked over 6%. With buyers frozen out, houses have been sitting on the market so any new listings are just adding to inventory.
This week inventory ticked down though. Bucking the trend of the last two months. We may finally have seen the peak of available inventory of homes for sale for the year. Or inventory could resume its climb next week. That would be the data that points to further chaos.
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I’m Mike Simonsen, I’m the CEO of Altos Research. Here’s what the data looks like for the first week of November 2022.
Real Estate Inventory
This week available inventory of homes for sale ticked down a fraction to 575,000 single family homes unsold on the market. That’s our first decrease week since August. In August when mortgage rates were in the 5% range, people were buying some homes. Since then rates have spiked over 7% and so inventory has been climbing into the late fall. This has been very unusual. And a pretty bearish sign for home prices in 2023. This week though inventory ticked down again. Is that it? Have we peaked for the year? I’ll show you in a minute why inventory may not be done climbing for the year.
This week with 575,000 homes on the market, that’s 44% more than last year at this time when there were only 400,000 homes on the market. Inventory is still 37% fewer than even in 2019 nationally. This really speaks to the big differences in local markets, all the big pandemic boom markets have cooled and are back to basically 2019 inventory levels. While the central and Northeast have not had notable inventory increases so far this year.
Here’s a quick look at inventory for the rest of the year. We’re at 575,000 single family homes on the market right now and I now expect about 520,000 by the end of the year.
Last year at this time there were 400k on the market and we ended the year at 310k. Back in 2018 for example there were 939,000 homes on the market and the year ended with 847,000. So our projection of 520,000 by the end of the year is a significantly slower drop off than most years, but there will still be fewer people selling their homes over the holidays so inventory falls.
The dotted line here is the projection through the end of the year. Interestingly the model predicts basically flat inventory between this week and next. And since the model has been underestimating inventory growth since rates spiked recently that could mean that we’re looking at an uptick next week. The model predicts flat, but the model has been undercutting it each week. For example this week, the forecast model expected inventory to fall by 9000 homes and inventory fell but only by 2000. Normally this coming week is one final gasp listing a house before the holidays. A few folks who need to get it on the market before the end of the year. So we could have an uptick in inventory next week. Wouldn’t that be wild.
Pending Home Sales
And even though our new listing rate is really low, our new sales rate is even lower. That’s why inventory has been growing even though there are not a lot of sellers. This is a chart of pendings. The homes in contract, not yet sold but no longer active on the market. There are fewer homes in contract now than at any point since early in the pandemic. That’s including Christmas and New Years weeks. The number of single family homes in contract fell by over 4% this week to roughly 325,000. The count of homes pending contract falls when the sales complete, or if the deal falls apart, and when fewer new sales are happening.
In this chart the dark red bars are the count of homes that were already pending, the light red are those that went into contract this week. With just 50,000 new sales this week, that’s the fewest since January 1. And it’s going to keep dropping. We have 29% fewer homes in contract than last year at this time.
Median price of single family homes in the US is $425,000 now. That’s flat from last week, and will keep dropping through the end of the year. You can see the dark red line here needs to adjust down until January. It’ll be at that time when we see if there are any buyers at all in 2023.
The price of the newly listed cohort, the light red line here, pulled back by 1% this week. You can see the steady pretty steep decline in the light red line at the right end of the chart that shows us how anyone listing their home today is doing so at a big discount to where they would have listed early in the year. We’ll look more at this leading indicator of future home sales prices in the webinar on Wednesday.
Home Price Reductions
The other leading indicator we watch for a signal on future transaction prices is price reductions. Currently over 43.2% of the homes on the market have had a price cut since their original list price. That’s up from 42.9% last week. Many have had multiple price cuts. Price cuts are still climbing, though they’re decelerating a bit finally. Every week that price cuts keep climbing now is a more bearish signal for where the future transaction prices are going to happen.
Many of the pandemic boom markets have over 60% of the homes with price cuts now. We talk about Boise and Austin and Phoenix and Vegas. Like inventory changes the markets of the central and northeast aren’t nearly in such pain.
These local dynamics are why if you need to help buyers and sellers understand what’s happening in the market right now, I encourage you to go to AltosResearch.com and book time with our team for a free local consultation. People desperately need to understand what’s actually happening in the market and they need you to help them make the right decisions.
If you're interested in keeping up with the housing market, I encourage you to sign up for our weekly real estate market updates. Every Monday, I break down all the latest numbers on home prices and inventory, and look at the trends we can see in the Altos data weeks or even months before you see them in the headlines.
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Thanks, and see you next week.