Homebuyers Slowly Return to Market with Falling Mortgage Rates, Redfin Reports

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More homebuyers are returning to the market, motivated by a decline in mortgage rates and a record share of listings with price drops, according to a new report from Redfin. Redfin’s Homebuyer Demand Index – a measure of requests for home tours and other home-buying services from Redfin agents – rose 7 points during the last week of July, and mortgage purchase applications rose for the first time in five weeks.

So far this rebound has not moved through to actual home sales. Pending sales in July posted their largest decline since May 2020. Home sellers are also reluctant to enter the market – new listings fell 11% from a year ago, the largest decline since June 2020.

“Homebuyers may catch a break this month as rates have come down nearly a point from the recent high on fears of a recession,” says Taylor Marr, Redfin’s deputy chief economist. “There are deals to be had on some homes that have been sitting on the market with reduced prices. General economic uncertainty may continue to keep a lid on homebuyer demand and keep mortgage rates volatile, but the labor market remains a beacon of strength in the economy and the housing market in particular.”

For the week ending August 4, 30-year mortgage rates fell to 4.99%, the lowest level in four months. This was down from a 2022 high of 5.81% but up from 3.11% at the start of the year.

Fewer people searched for “homes for sale” on Google – searches during the week ending July 30 were down 24% from a year earlier, but are up 9% since late May.

The seasonally adjusted Redfin Homebuyer Demand Index was down 9% year over year during the week ending July 31, but has risen 21 points since the week of June 19. Touring activity as of July 31 was down 7% from the start of the year, compared to a 15% increase at the same time last year, according to home tour technology company ShowingTime.

Mortgage purchase applications were down 16% from a year earlier during the week ending July 29, while the seasonally adjusted index was up 1% week over week, the first increase in five weeks.

Unless otherwise noted, key housing market takeaway data for 400+ U.S. metro areas covers the four-week period ending July 31. Redfin’s weekly housing market data goes back through 2015.

The median home sale price was $380,187, up 8% year over year, the slowest growth rate since July 2020. Prices fell 3.8% from their peak during the four-week period ending June 19. A year ago, they rose 0.7% during the same period. San Francisco was the only metro area that saw a year-over-year decline in the median home sale price. Prices fell 8% from a year earlier.

The median asking price of newly listed homes increased 13% year over year to $394,375, but was down 2.6% from the all-time high set during the four-week period ending May 22. Last year during the same period median prices were down just 0.1%.

The monthly mortgage payment on the median asking price home hit $2,267 at the current 4.99% mortgage rate, up 37% from $1,655 a year earlier, when mortgage rates were 2.77%. That’s down slightly from the peak of $2,467 reached during the four weeks ending June 12.

Pending home sales were down 16% year over year, the largest decline since May 2020. New listings of homes for sale were down 11% from a year earlier, the largest decline since June 2020. Active listings (the number of homes listed for sale at any point during the period) rose 4% year over year.

Of homes that went under contract, 38% of homes that went under contract had an accepted offer within the first two weeks on the market, down from 45% a year earlier, while 26% had an accepted offer within one week of hitting the market, down from 31% a year earlier.

Homes that sold were on the market for a median of 21 days, up from 19 days a year earlier and up from the record low of 16 days set in May and early June. Forty-five percent of homes sold above list price, down from 53% a year earlier.

On average, 7.7% of homes for sale each week had a price drop, a record high as far back as the data goes, through the beginning of 2015. The average sale-to-list price ratio, which measures how close homes are selling to their asking prices, declined to 100.8%. In other words, the average home sold for 0.8% above its asking price. This was down from 101.9% a year earlier.

Read the full report here.

Image: Dillon Kydd on Unsplash

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