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2019 vs. 2024: Homes are harder to find, and even harder to afford

List prices on homes have gone up significantly since the spring of 2019, before the start of the pandemic.
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Posted at 5:48 PM, Jun 05, 2024

A lot has changed in the past five years, including the value of your home. In fact, every square foot in your home is worth much more today compared to 2019.

List prices on homes have been up significantly since the spring of 2019, before the start of the pandemic. In the same period, inventory fell. Experts say those are two ingredients for a very seller-friendly market.

"Between the challenge of high prices and high mortgage rates, it's really expensive to buy a home," said Danielle Hale, chief economist with Realtor.com.

Realtor.com's monthly housing market trends report is giving buyers a better look at how the market has changed over the past five years, pre-pandemic to present day.

According to the report, the median list price of homes for sale is up 37.5% compared to May 2019, five years ago. The price per square foot shot up more than 52% during the same time.

"That's twice the pace of overall inflation in that time period," Hale said. "So that's a big reason why home shoppers are really feeling squeezed."

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Mortgage rates averaging above 7% are not helping buyers. But Hale said it's not all doom and gloom: She tells Scripps News more affordable homes are entering the market, with inventory up 35.2% compared to last spring.

"We have seen an even bigger surge in entry-level priced homes relative to the overall market. So that's good news for someone who's looking for a starter home," she said.

Inventory is still down compared to 2017-2019 levels.

Hale said most sellers are in a good position to make a profit, but the biggest winners are sellers who are downsizing or able to pay all cash and avoid those high mortgage rates for their next purchase.