July 21, 2024

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Housing market crisis: Inventory is up, but buyers are revolting

2 min read

The US housing market — long crippled by an inventory drought — is finally starting to see listings rise. But now, in many places, the buyers just aren’t showing up.

Sellers are grappling with the fact that higher-for-longer rates are choking off demand during what’s typically the key season for the market. And more of those owners are cutting asking prices than any time since November 2022 as inventory grows stale, according to Redfin Corp.

“With mortgage rates rising back over 7%, the willingness of homebuyers to take a stab this season is diminished,” Ralph McLaughlin, senior economist at Realtor.com, said. “You can have high prices or you can have high mortgage rates, but you can’t have both for long.”

Coming into this year, the prospects of rate cuts by the Federal Reserve stirred up some optimism for a housing market that had just emerged from its worst year for sales of previously owned homes in nearly three decades. But the economy continued to roar on, diminishing hopes for interest rate cuts anytime soon.

“Without the rate cuts, a cold reality is settling down on the housing market,” Robert Frick, corporate economist for Navy Federal Credit Union, said.

Buyers are getting very little, if any, relief from high borrowing costs. The average rate on a 30-year mortgage has hovered near 7% since the middle of April. And prices have continued to climb higher. In the four weeks ended May 26, the median sale price was up 4.3% from a year earlier to a record $390,613, according to Redfin.

House hunters of all kinds are being squeezed out of the market. Sales of new homes — a bright spot for the inventory-constrained market — fell in April. Contracts to purchase existing homes that month slumped to the lowest level in four years. The pullback is causing listings to accumulate rather than getting matched with buyers, according to Realtor.com’s McLaughlin.

The spring selling season so far is “definitely a…

Prashant Gopal, Michael Sasso, Bloomberg

2024-06-01 19:11:12

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