Homes sold faster in September than in any month this year

The coronavirus pandemic pushed back the home shopping season into the fall, according to a Zillow report. (iStock)

The coronavirus pandemic pushed back the home shopping season into the fall, according to a Zillow report. (iStock)

Fall is usually a cool-down period for the U.S. housing market. Not this year.

Homes sold nearly twice as fast in September as they did in the same month last year, and faster than in any month this year, according to a Zillow report.

The pandemic seems to have pushed back the typical home shopping season into the fall and perhaps winter, after supply and demand cratered during the spring. One factor was prospective buyers weighing their space needs as they navigate remote work and remote learning for their children, according to the report.

“The September acceleration bucks typical seasonal trends that generally show the market beginning to slow in September as the weather cools, children go back to school and the busy spring/summer home shopping season wanes,” the report reads.

The increased speed at which homes are trading hands is geographically broad, according to the report. In 31 of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States, the typical home sold at least twice as fast in September 2020 as in September 2019.

Homes also sold faster regardless of price. Those in the $186,000 to $344,000 range sold fastest, at 14 and 16 days, respectively, down from 20 and 23 in September 2019. Homes asking below $186,000 typically sold in 18 days, down from 23.

More expensive homes typically took longer to sell than cheaper ones, but not as long as last year. Those priced from $344,001 to $487,999 typically sold in 20 days, while those asking $488,000 and up typically sold in 33.

The spread in days on market between cheap and expensive homes generally tightens in the spring and opens up in the fall, but the opposite has happened this year, “indicating broad demand throughout the market,” according to the report. The bottom 20 percent of homes by price sold only 15 days faster than the top 20 percent, a nine-day drop from the spread in September 2019.

In some cities, such as Salt Lake City, Seattle, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, there was virtually no difference in days on market between the least and most expensive homes. Buffalo, where the most expensive homes sold 34 days faster than the least expensive, was an outlier. Nashville is the only market where homes sold more slowly in September than they did a year ago.

Fueled in part by record-low mortgage rates, sales of existing homes reached a 14-year high in August, despite a paltry supply of homes on the market, according to the National Association of Realtors. With robust demand from homebuyers, homebuilder confidence also hit an all-time high in October.

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