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No Breaks for Aspiring Homeowners

By Realtor.com

The real estate market maintained its frenzy to the end of 2021 despite double-digit list price growth, a new report from realtor.com® shows. Home buyers may be more eager than ever to purchase a home before mortgage rates rise.

Even during the winter months that are typically quieter for the market, buyers find they must still act quickly. Time on market for homes for sale remains historically low so far this winter, realtor.com® says. Home shoppers this season have only a few extra days to make a decision compared with the hectic spring and summer.

Buyer activity continued to outmatch limited housing inventory in December 2021. Last month, the typical U.S. home reached a 10-month streak of selling faster than in any month before 2021, realtor.com® reports. The South region of the U.S. saw some of the quickest home sales in December 2021 over 2020, led by Miami (31 days faster), Orlando (19 days faster), and Raleigh, N.C. (18 days faster).

Overall, December marked the third consecutive month of bigger annual declines in the U.S. supply of active listings.

“December data offers a fitting finish to the frenzy of the past year,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “Annual listing price growth hit double digits again nationwide and in many of the hottest markets, after four months of single-digit pace this fall. Despite buyer challenges like rising prices, limited inventory, and fast-paced sales, real estate activity maintained a brisk pace throughout 2021 as factors like low mortgage rates enabled home shoppers to persist.”

Hale says that with rate hikes on the horizon, house hunters may try to get ahead of higher monthly housing costs and drive up competition and prices even more.

Still, housing inventory is expected to improve this year, realtor.com®’s report says. “For those [buyers] who weren’t successful in 2021, we expect better luck in the coming months as more sellers plan to enter the market—and if December’s listings are an indication, with high asking prices in mind,” Hale says.

A small table showing Dec. 2021 housing metrics and the rate of change over time from Dec. 2020 and Dec. 2019.