The “Looking Glass” ponders economic and real estate trends through two distinct lenses: the optimist’s “glass half-full” and the pessimist’s “glass half-empty.”
Buzz: The number of U.S. homes for sale jumped 25% from April to May, the biggest one-month jump in a database that dates to 2016.
Source: My trusty spreadsheet looked inside the St. Louis Fed’s curation of monthly listings stats from Realtor.com.
Debate: Was this large jump a short-term reaction by owners to rising mortgage rates and economic fears, or was it the beginning of a surge for house hunters who have had few choices in the pandemic era? And where did owners rush to sell the most?
If one sees the May surge as good news for home shoppers, California ranked No. 7 at 37%.
The biggest jumps were in the Western U.S: No. 1 Washington, up 62%, then Utah at 60%, Idaho at 52%, Arizona at 45% and Colorado at 41%.
Smallest? South Dakota at 4%, then Hawaii at 8%, West Virginia at 11%, New York at 11% and Louisiana at 12%,
And California’s rivals: Texas, No. 19 at 27% and Florida, No. 22 at 25%.
So how odd was May? Let’s look at what owners did in 2017-19 before the coronavirus upended house hunting.
An average May in pre-pandemic years saw U.S. listings rise slightly by 4% from April to May. This year, May’s increase was six times bigger.
California’s average May jump in 2017-19 was 8%. This year’s jump was 4.5 times bigger.
The biggest increases? Wisconsin’s 22% was 18 times bigger than the 2017-19 May pace; Delaware’s 23% was 15 times larger, Arkansas’s 15% was a 14-fold increase, and Oklahoma’s 17% was 10 times faster.
No matter how you view May’s stunning surge, listings are still running well below pre-pandemic norms.
May 2022 inventory nationwide was 60% below the average May of 2017-19. California was down 45% — the sixth-smallest dip.
Farthest from normal? Vermont was 82% below average, followed by Connecticut, which was off by 78%, Maine off 75%, and North Carolina and New Hampshire off 73%.
Closest to normal, and still not all that close was Nevada, off 29%, then New York off 34%, Washington state and Idaho off 41% and Utah off 44%.
Texas ranks No. 12, off 54%, and Florida was No. 35, off 67%.
What’s a typical June for homes on the market?
The spreadsheet says the 2017-19 track record will boost listings nationwide by 4%, with California ranked No. 26 at 5%.
The biggest average jumps have been in Washington state, up 13%, then Maine and Colorado at 12%, and Oregon and New Hampshire at 11%.
Supply drops in snow-bird friendly Arizona, down 3% on average, and Florida, off 2%. The housing supply runs flat in Alabama, Delaware and South Carolina.
Then there’s Texas, No. 22 with 5% growth.
If you look at May on a year-over-year basis, 30 states had rising supplies for homes for sale — with the nation overall up 8%. California ranked No. 9 at 28%.
Biggest jumps? Idaho at 88%, then Utah at 73%, Arizona at 59%, Washington at 44%, and Tennessee at 42%.
Smallest? Connecticut, off 55%, then Vermont (down 31%), Illinois (down 17%), Iowa (down 17%), and New Mexico (down 16%).
Texas? No. 11, up 22%. Florida? No. 29, up 1%.
PS: Among 50 big metro areas tracked, the year’s largest jump in homes on the market was in Austin (up 86%), then came Phoenix (up 67%), Sacramento (up 55%) and the Inland Empire (up 52%).
Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com