Why do home buyers and sellers alike track days-on-market stats every bit as obsessively as money managers fixate on the Dow, baseball fans on weight-on-base averages, or “Bachelor” fans on ambush breakups? Well, it all depends on which side of the sales aisle you’re on. Sellers, of course, want their homes to move to closing as quickly as possible, maybe even spurring a sweet price war en route. Buyers, on the other hand, are eager to avoid said price wars and maybe even have a bunch of different homes to choose from.
But contrary to what you might assume from reading real estate news headlines, there are metro areas where homes aren’t being snapped up at a breakneck pace. It’s a big country, after all. So we got curious. What could we learn from how long homes spend on the market in different metros?
The realtor.com® team of data wizards set out to learn where “For Sale” signs are coming down about as quickly as Tickle Me Elmo toys flew off the shelves circa 1996—and where abodes are taking the longest to sell. It turns out, those two opposing lists portray clashing versions of America’s real estate market today.
Buyers and sellers, take note(s)!
“That info can give home buyers an idea of how much competition they face, how limited homes are in the market, and how quickly they need to make a decision if they find a home they like,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale of realtor.com.
And sellers can get a reality check about how long their home should spend on the market—if it’s priced right and in good condition.
“It helps them get an idea of how long they have to move somewhere else,” Hale says. “In a really hot market, you can probably sell your home without making updates. But if you make updates, your home is more competitive.”
Nationally, the median number of days on the market is falling—there are too many buyers and not enough properties for sale, particularly in booming tech hubs. It hit a low of 60 days in the high-home-buying season of both May and June 2017, according to realtor.com data. That’s down from 89 days in June 2012. (Our data go back only to May 2012.)
To figure out where these home-buying headaches are the worst (or are relatively painless), we looked at the median number of days that for-sale homes in the 300 largest metros spent on market from February 2017 through January 2018.* We limited our rankings to just one metro per state to ensure some geographic diversity.
Ready? Get set? Let’s first go look at those boiling-hot metros where homes spend the least time on market.
Better move fast: Homes sell the quickest in these markets
1. San Jose, CA
Median days on market: 28.6
Median list price: $1,100,300
When it comes to high-tech jobs with correspondingly high paychecks—and a soaring real estate market—nothing can compete with San Jose. The sprawling city is the heart of Silicon Valley.
As a result of those movin’-like-flapjack homes and the resulting availability shortage, median list prices in the metro rose nearly 26.4% year over year as of February, according to realtor.com data.
Local real estate broker associate Zaid Hanna, of Intero Real Estate Services, routinely receives five to 70—yes, 70—offers per property if it’s not priced outrageously. He received nearly two dozen offers for one three-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom abode that was listed at $829,000. It wound up selling for $960,000. That’s $131,000 over asking price, and had a down payment of $600,000. And this was a property that hadn’t been updated in 35 years!
It’s not uncommon for homes to go for $100,000 to $400,000 over the asking price, Hanna says. Ouch.
“There no shortage of buyers—many of them well-heeled—in Santa Clara County, where so many tech giants are located and jobs, generally, have lately been on the rebound,” says area real estate broker associate Dawn Thomas, of Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty. “Buyers are ‘burning’ through inventory with [still] low-interest rates.”
2. Seattle, WA
Median days on market: 34.1
Median list price: $499,950
Homes are flying off their blocks in the birthplace of Amazon and Microsoft almost as quickly as in Silicon Valley.
“Anything on the market that is halfway decent is selling immediately with multiple offers,” says Annie Radecki, senior manager at John Burns Real Estate Consulting Seattle. “New-home builders used to sell first come, first served. But more than half of them have converted to selling to the highest and best offer.”
That’s because the economy is strong with plenty of well-paid employees needing places to live. But the home shortage—as well as skyrocketing prices—is leading more buyers to venture farther out from the city limits.
Take Tacoma, about 35 miles from Seattle, where the median list price is a much more reasonable $270,000, according to realtor.com data. But prices are rising there as well. Prices jumped about 13.9% from December 2016 to December 2017, according to the most recent realtor.com data.
They were up 16.9% year over year in Seattle over the same period, according to realtor.com data.
“It’s so hot that one would have to drive an hour and a half at rush hour from downtown Seattle to get a better inventory situation,” Radecki adds. That means to find an area with a better stock of homes on the market buyers have to commute 30 to 40 miles to the north, south, or east.
Median days on market: 38.2
Median list price: $372,450
People are flocking to Utah, particularly Salt Lake City, like luna moths to flame.
That’s probably because the economy is booming with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S., ringing in at just 2.7% in December 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s leading to plenty of transplants. The city is expected to gain an additional 600,000 residents over the next 50 years, according to a University of Utah research brief.
Pair that with a relatively low cost of living, compared with some of the other cities on our list, a great public…