Signs point to better news for buyers in the home market

As vaccination rates rise and Covid-19 cases decline in many parts of the country, daily life is slowly starting to look like it did before the pandemic. The real estate market still has a long way to go before it recovers from the sharp price increases and inventory declines that have frustrated buyers over the past year and a half. But there are signs of change, if you look closely.

A few weeks ago in this space, we reported that the bidding wars slowed in August, when a smaller share of homes sold above asking price compared to July, according to Redfin. And Realtor.com’s September market report also revealed some small but significant changes – for one thing, homes also took longer to sell than in previous months.

In September, the number of listings available in the US was down about 22% year-over-year and more than 52% from September 2019, keeping the seller’s market moving . But September’s year-over-year decline was smaller than August’s, which was nearly 26%.

The national median list price is up nearly 9% year-over-year and up nearly 21% from September 2019, again, which doesn’t make buying a home any easier. There was, however, no change in the median list price from August to September after monthly increases throughout the year to June, no change in July and another drop in August – other small market correction indices.

Additionally, in nearly half of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, median list prices were down or stable from a year ago. Median list prices fell the most in Milwaukee, down more than 14% from a year ago, while in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit list prices fell between 7.5 and 8%. In those areas, at least, buyers can feel some relief.

The 24 metros among the nation’s 50 largest in which prices fell or remained flat are shown in this week’s chart, based on research from Realtor.com.