Buyers May See ‘Whirlwind Year’

A woman and a man holding a new house key sit before a gray interior wall with moving boxes to their left and their right.

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Home buyers hoping for a less competitive market before they make their move may be disappointed. The housing market remains unseasonably hot over the typically slow winter period. In the January just concluded, the typical U.S. home sold faster than in any other January on record, according to®’s monthly housing report, released Tuesday.

“We’re forecasting a whirlwind year ahead for buyers and, if January housing trends are any indication, 2022 competition is already heating up,” says Danielle Hale,®’s chief economist. “Homes sold at a record-fast January pace, suggesting that buyers are more active than usual for this time of year.”

Housing choices for buyers remain low. The number of new listings continued to decline in January. “Factors like omicron uncertainties could be causing sellers to hesitate even when they know housing conditions are favorable,” Hale says. “Another key barrier is the inventory ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma that may vex sellers who are also buying: Do you list now when home shoppers are hungry for more options, or do you wait for more inventory to hit the market in the spring?”

Preparation is proving key for sellers who have to buy.

The typical U.S. home spent 61 days on the market before being sold in January, which is 10 fewer days than a year ago and 29 fewer days compared with the prepandemic era of 2017–2019,® reports. Metros in the South posted the largest yearly declines in time on the market, led by Miami (down 29 days), Orlando, Fla. (down 24 days), and Raleigh, N.C. (down 17 days).

A table showing the change in competition for homes from January 2021 and January 2020.