Representing the last full month before the coronavirus became a global pandemic, February saw the third consecutive month of year-over-year increases in U.S. home sales—a streak not seen since 2015. At the same time, inventory across the report’s 53 metro markets plunged 15.8 percent, marking the fourth successive month of double-digit percentage, year-over-year declines.
“Strong February home sales and limited inventory defined U.S. housing ahead of the challenges brought on by the coronavirus emergency,” says Adam Contos, CEO of RE/MAX Holdings, Inc. “Even as we all adjust to the new landscape of social distancing and limited in-person interaction, houses will continue to be bought and sold. Overall, demand in February was high, inventory remains low and interest rates are attractive, but exact circumstances vary by community. Professional agents—the local experts—can offer tremendous value right now, providing clarity and expert guidance in an environment that’s new for everyone and changing every day.”
Before the coronavirus struck the U.S. on a large scale, home sales in February—which enjoyed an extra weekend day for Leap Year—increased 7.5 percent year-over-year, following strong increases of 13.5 percent and 10.5 percent in December and January. The previous streak of increasing year-over-year sales of three months or longer began in December 2015 and continued seven months into June 2016. That was also a period of large inventory declines, like the current stretch of year-over-year drops in inventory that is now at eight months.
February’s median sales price of $260,000 posted a year-over-year increase of 7.9 percent—the 14th consecutive month where home prices have shot up.
In the nearly 12-year history of the report, three February records were set last month:
- Fewest Months Supply of Inventory: 2.8
- Fewest Days on Market: 60
- Highest Median Sales Price: $260,000
Of the 53 metro areas surveyed in February 2020, the overall average number of home sales is up 7.4 percent compared to January 2020, and up 7.5 percent compared to February 2019. Leading the year-over-year sales percentage increase were Los Angeles, Calif., at +32.2 percent, Las Vegas, Nev., at +28.0 percent, and Billings, Mont., at +20.1 percent.
Median Sales Price
In February 2020, the median of all 53 metro median sales prices was $260,000, up 2.0 percent from January 2020, and up 7.9 percent from February 2019. Fifteen metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages, with the largest increases seen in Birmingham, Ala., at +16.5 percent, Augusta, Maine, at +14.5 percent, and Milwaukee, Wis., at +13.9 percent. Three metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in median sales price, with the largest decrease seen in Billings, Mont., at -5.2 percent.
Days on Market
The average days on market for homes sold in February 2020 was 60, up one day from the average in January 2020, and down two days from the average in February 2019. The metro areas with the lowest days on market were Omaha, Neb., at 28, and a two-way tie between Nashville, Tenn., and San Francisco, Calif., at 34. The highest days on market averages were in Des Moines, Iowa, at 119, Augusta, Maine, at 112, and Hartford, Conn., at 97. Days on market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.
Months Supply of Inventory
The number of homes for sale in February 2020 was down 2.6 percent from January 2020 and down 15.8 percent from February 2019. Based on the rate of home sales in February 2020, the months supply of inventory decreased to 2.8 compared to 3.2 in January 2020, and decreased compared to 4.1 in February 2019. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In February 2020, of the 53 metro areas surveyed, four metro areas reported a months supply at or over six, which is typically considered a buyer’s market. The markets with the lowest months supply of inventory were Denver, Colo., and Seattle, Wash., both at 1.1.
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