Housing Market Activity Lost Steam in January as Mortgage Rates Stopped Falling and Prices Kept Rising

by Real estate financingMission+
7 minutes read

New listings dropped for the first time since June and pending sales growth slowed; stagnating mortgage rates and the biggest home-price jump in over a year caused the market to lose momentum.

Housing market activity stalled slightly in January as mortgage rates stopped falling, housing costs climbed and buyers and sellers grappled with worse-than-expected winter weather. 

New listings dropped 1.2% month over month on a seasonally adjusted basis, the first decline since June. They were up 2.7% from a year earlier, but that marks a deceleration from December’s 4.2% gain. Active listings (the total number of homes for sale) fell 0.3% from a month earlier on a seasonally adjusted basis—the first decline in six months—and were down 4.4% year over year.

Pending home sales also lost momentum in January, rising 1.1% from a month earlier on a seasonally adjusted basis—a marked slowdown from December’s 5.1% jump. Still, pending sales were at the highest level since September 2022 and rose 8.8% from a year earlier.

Stagnant mortgage rates are the main culprit that took the gas off the housing market pedal last month. They started and ended January at 6.6%—unexciting news after buyers and sellers at the end of last year watched rates drop the most since 2008. Homeowners are hesitant to sell because a majority of them still have mortgage rates below current levels, and selling often means taking on a higher rate.

“A lot of my customers are paying close attention to what the Federal Reserve says. Buyers and sellers came off the sidelines in December when the Fed signaled it would lower interest rates three times in the next year, but now some are getting cold feet because the Fed indicated that rate cuts may come later than expected,” said Hal Bennett, a Redfin Premier real estate agent in Bellevue, WA. “Inflation and geopolitical conflicts are also scaring some buyers. April, at the absolutely earliest, is when I think things could take off.”

Brutally cold temperatures across the country last month, along with rising housing costs, also likely contributed to the slight cooldown in market activity. 

Home Prices Posted the Biggest Increase in 16 Months

The median U.S. home sale price climbed 5.2% year over year to $402,343 in January, the biggest jump since September 2022. Prices were little changed from a month earlier (-0.01%). Please note that home price data is not seasonally adjusted, which is why we focus on year-over-year changes for this metric.

America’s enduring shortage of homes for sale is the primary driver of price growth; both new listings and active listings remained far below pre-pandemic levels in January. 

January 2024 Highlights: United States

January 2024 Month-Over-Month Change Year-Over-Year Change
Median sale price $402,343 0.0% 5.2%
Pending sales, seasonally adjusted 430,809 1.1% 8.8%
Homes sold, seasonally adjusted 392,446 -0.2% -1.0%
New listings, seasonally adjusted 510,057 -1.2% 2.7%
All homes for sale, seasonally adjusted (active listings) 1,554,413 -0.3% -4.4%
Months of supply 3.1 0.5 -0.3
Median days on market 49 6 -3
Share of for-sale homes with a price drop 16.9% 2.9 ppts 0.2 ppts
Share of homes sold above final list price 23.9% -1.7 ppts 2.7 ppts
Average sale-to-final-list-price ratio 98.4% -0.2 ppts 0.5 ppts
Pending sales that fell out of contract, as % of overall pending sales 14.2% -1.5 ppts 0.9 ppts

Average 30-year fixed mortgage rate

6.64% -0.18 ppts 0.37 ppts

Note: Data is subject to revision

Metro-Level Highlights: January 2024

Data in the bullets below came from a list of the 91 U.S. metro areas with populations of at least 750,000. Select metros may be excluded from time to time to ensure data accuracy. A full metro-level data table can be found in the “download” tab of the dashboard in the monthly section of the Redfin Data Center. Refer to our metrics definition page for explanations of metrics used in this report. Metro-level data is not seasonally adjusted.

  • Pending sales: In Las Vegas, pending sales rose 43.4% year over year, more than any other metro Redfin analyzed. Next came Stockton, CA (40.9%) and Raleigh, NC (38.5%). Pending sales fell most in Cincinnati (-19.7%), Grand Rapids, MI (-16.2%) and Tulsa, OK (-11.9%).
  • Closed sales: Closed sales rose most in Stockton (27.9%), San Jose, CA (19.9%) and Salt Lake City (18.1%). They fell most in Camden, NJ (-16.5%), Jacksonville, FL (-13.7%) and Buffalo, NY (-11.2%).
  • Prices: Median sale prices rose most from a year earlier in Camden (14.3%), Miami (13.8%) and Knoxville, TN (13.6%). They fell in five metros, with the biggest declines in San Antonio (-4.9%), Austin, TX (-4.4%) and Memphis (-3.9%).
  • New listings: New listings rose most from a year earlier in North Port, FL (31.9%), McAllen, TX (29.6%) and Fort Lauderdale, FL (27.1%). They fell most in Grand Rapids (-21.9%), Lake County, IL (-19.9%) and Kansas City, MO (-16.3%).
  • Overall supply: Active listings increased fastest in Cape Coral, FL (57.9%), North Port (44.9%) and McAllen (24.2%). They decreased fastest in Raleigh (-28.5%), Las Vegas (-24.8%) and New Brunswick, NJ (-24.1%). 
  • Competition: In Rochester, NY, 66.2% of homes sold above their final list price, the highest share among the metros Redfin analyzed. Next came Newark, NJ (59.7%) and Buffalo (58.1%). The shares were lowest in West Palm Beach, FL (6.8%), North Port (6.8%) and Cape Coral (7.7%).
  • Speed: In Rochester, 70.5% of homes that went under contract did so within two weeks—the highest share among the metros Redfin analyzed. Next came Seattle (65.7%) and San Jose (62%). The lowest shares were in Chicago (14.7%), Knoxville (16.9%) and Tucson, AZ (17.4%).

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