Is Inventory Tightening Again? One Forecast Says Yes

In just a few months, home shoppers may begin to see a drop in the number of homes for sale, which could lead to the return of bidding wars and quicker home sales, a new report from realtor.com® predicts.

Realtor.com® researchers predict a major shift to occur in the housing market that will affect buyers’ bargaining power well into 2020. With high demand for the limited number of homes for sale, buyers may need to be braced to pay higher home prices.

The U.S. median listing price in June reached its highest point of the year at $316,000. Properties in June spent an average of 56 days on the market, a two-day increase from a year ago.

“It was only 18 months ago that the number of homes for sale hit its lowest level in recorded history and sparked the fiercest competition among buyers we’ve ever seen,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “If the trend we’re seeing continues, overall inventory could near record lows by early next year. So far there’s been a lackluster response to low mortgage rates, but if they do spark fresh buyer interest later in the year, U.S. inventory could set new record lows.”

Newly listed homes have either declined or only increased very little in 2019. Why aren’t more homeowners taking advantage of the market and listing their homes for sale? “It’s likely a combination of a rate lock, recently decreased consumer confidence, and older generations choosing to age in place,” Hale says. Consumers are showing slightly more concern over a potential recession and future economic growth that could be making them skittish.

But low mortgage rates also may be keeping many homeowners in place. Seven years ago, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reached its lowest average at 3.3%, according to Freddie Mac’s records. That prompted many homeowners to refinance and lock in lower monthly mortgage payments.

Rates today remain low, but they’re still 50 basis points higher than they were in December 2012. That means many homeowners still have mortgages with rates well below today’s averages.

Source: Realtor Magazine/Move Inc./July 10

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