Buyers facing a ‘need for speed’ as inventory dwindles

Homes are getting snapped up a lot faster than they were a year ago, leading to a limited window for buyers to make a decision

Homes are getting snapped up a lot faster now than they were a year ago, leading to a limited window for buyers to make a decision.

Buyers need to act fast in today’s home market, according to a new report from Zillow. Right now, homes are staying on the market for an average of 78 days before closing. That’s more than a week less than a year ago.

“And not only is the time a home spends on the market currently much less than recent months, it’s also well below historic norms,” Zillow reported.
“Since the beginning of 2010, the long-term monthly average of the time a typical U.S. home spent on the market before selling is roughly 111 days.”
Homes are selling more quickly this year in 27 of the country’s 35 largest metro housing markets, according to Zillow. In some areas, like Charlotte, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, they’re selling more than two weeks faster than last year’s average. And in hot markets like the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest, homes are selling in the blink of an eye.

“In San Francisco and San Jose, the typical home sold in just 43 days in May,” Zillow reported. “…In Seattle homes sold in 47 days, and in Portland homes sold in 51 days. Considering it typically takes a minimum of 30 days (and often 45 days or longer) for a home sale to close once an initial offer is accepted, the window a buyer realistically has to look at a home sale and decide whether to make an offer in these markets is astoundingly brief.”

Lightning-fast sales are being driven in large part by increasingly tight inventory, Zillow reported. As of the end of the second quarter, the number of homes for sale nationwide was down 4.7% from the same time last year. The number of homes for sale nationwide has dropped year-over-year for 17 consecutive months, and in 46 of the past 55 months, according to Zillow.

“When there are so few homes on the market in the first place, it makes sense that those that are available would be scooped up more quickly,” Zillow reported. “But in addition to the speed of the market being a product of limited inventory, that speed may also be contributing to that scarcity of inventory too.”