Fewer Homeowners Are Selling

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House hunters feeling that inventory continues to tighten are right, a new report shows. The number of homes for sale is down 28.4% compared to a year ago, according to realtor.com® data. Two years ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of active listings was 60% higher than today.

Winter months tend to be slower for the housing market as fewer sellers list homes. But this winter, inventories have fallen more than normal.

Economists downplay the effect of the pandemic, particularly the omicron variant, as the culprit. Instead, they say homeowners are hesitant to sell because they’re concerned about having to buy a new home themselves. That has prompted many to delay their selling plans, even as they watch the growing amount of equity in their properties.

More than one in four potential sellers recently surveyed said they were choosing not to sell in the near term because they couldn’t find a home they wanted in their price range, according to realtor.com®’s research.

“With housing costs rising, as home prices and mortgage rates both increase, affordability is more important than ever to households,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “Data suggests that this may be as true for sellers, many of whom will also purchase a new home, as it is for home buyers.”

Meanwhile, home buyers are finding fewer and fewer homes for sale at a time when they may be feeling in a rush. They want to take advantage of still-low mortgage rates before expected increases hit this spring.

Read more: Buyers May See ‘Whirlwind Year’