Reprinted from Realtor.com®
For Sale signs are missing across the West, Midwest, and Northeast housing markets and that also means higher median listing prices. For more affordable options, buyers need to go South.
Based on the analysis from realtor.com®, San Jose, Calif., led the list of toughest markets to buy a home with four listings per 1,000 homeowner households. San Jose is followed in rank order by San Francisco, Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y., and Seattle.
At the other end of the spectrum, the top 20 easiest markets to buy a home had an average of 22 for sale listings per 1,000 households. Fort Myers, Fla., topped the list of easiest markets to buy with nearly 38 listings per 1,000 households. Two other Florida markets followed it—Miami/Fort Lauderdale with 31.8 listings per 1,000 households and Deltona/Daytona Beach/Ormond at 30.9 listings per 1,000 households. Bridgeport/Stamford/Norwalk, Conn., with 29.7 listings per 1,000 households, and North Port/Sarasota/Bradenton with 25.8 listings per 1,000 households, rounded out the top five easiest markets to buy a home. The metro Las Vegas area has 19.9 listings per 1,000 households and a median listing price of $323,532.
“While the nation’s housing supply continues to hit new lows just in time for the spring homebuying season, local market differences remain,” said realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “Although the toughest list is sprinkled with some of the markets you expect, others may be a surprise—they represent markets where housing is still affordable, but quality of life makes them attractive markets, especially for first-time buyers.”
Hale added, “We also found that ‘easiest’ doesn’t mean that a market is struggling. Buyers searching in easier markets generally benefit from a combination of strong availability of homes for sale and, with some exceptions, healthy, yet more moderate price growth.”
To determine the toughest and easiest markets to find a home, realtor.com® looked at the density of home listings in each market relative to the available stock of owned homes in the area and compared that to the number of active listings in a market per 1,000 households during the fourth quarter of 2019.
The toughest markets to find a home include a diverse geographic mix of larger established metros and up-and-comers where housing is still relatively affordable. They are concentrated in three regions of the country—eight metros from the West, six from the Midwest, and six from the Northeast. None of the markets are located in the South, which dominates the list of top 20 easiest markets to find a home.
California led the national list of toughest markets, with six of the top 20 toughest markets coming from the state. Ohio followed with three markets—Columbus, Cincinnati, and Akron—making the top 20 toughest markets list.
The scarcity of homes is reflected in the market prices, and the trend in most of the toughest markets is toward even fewer homes for sale. The average median listing price for the top 20 toughest markets was $480,830 in January, 40 percent higher than the average median price of the top 100 largest markets. In addition, 17 of the top 20 toughest markets began 2020 with double-digit annual declines in available inventory, with a handful of markets seeing more than a 30 percent drop, including San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and San Diego.
On the list of the easiest markets to find a home, Florida metros claimed four of the top five spots and seven of the top 20 easiest markets to find a home. Connecticut has three markets represented, while South Carolina and Texas each have two.
The average median listing price for the top 20 easiest markets was $356,345 in January 2020, 3 percent higher than the average median price of the nation’s 100 largest markets. Despite having a good supply of inventory, asking prices are growing and the number of for-sale listings is dropping. For instance, the Fort Myers metro saw asking prices grow 8 percent year-over-year in January, while inventory declined 22 percent during the same period, which was in line with national market demand.
Methodology Households refer specifically to owner-occupied household counts sourced from Claritas estimates based on Census data. Listing per 1,000 households calculations was performed using data from Q4 2019. The latest listing price and active listings year-over-year data are from January 2020.