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Housing Market Tracker: Active listings barely budge

From the seasonal bottom on April 14 to now — a whole month — total active inventory has only grown by 14,913.



The rise of active listings in this spring housing market reminds me of a zombie slowly rising from its grave. Yes, we found the seasonal bottom for housing inventory on April 14, but this year’s rise in active listings has been tepid at best.

Here’s a quick rundown of the last week:

  • Total active listings grew 662 weekly, and new listing data is still trending at all-time lows.
  • Mortgage rates fell last week as we started the week at 6.65% and got as low as 6.49% to end the week at 6.55%.
  • Purchase application data rose 5% weekly as the streak of lower rates impacting the weekly data continues.

Weekly housing inventory

Well, the best thing I can say for spring 2023 inventory is that we found the seasonal bottom a few weeks ago. On the positive side, we’re at least seeing inventory rise — some had feared that because new listing data was trending at all-time lows, we wouldn’t see a spring increase in the active listings at all. This doesn’t appear to be the case for 2023.

However, new listing data is very seasonal and we have less than two months left before it starts declining again. I had hoped we would see more active listings before that period, but unfortunately that’s not the case. In fact, this data line has been absolutely crazy.

How crazy?

Last year, from April 22 to April 29, total single-family inventory grew by 16,311 in that one week. This year, from the seasonal bottom on April 14 to now — a whole month — total active inventory has only grown by 14,913.

  • Weekly inventory change (May 5-12): Inventory rose from 419,725 to 420,381
  • Same week last year (May 6-13): Inventory rose from 300,481 to 312,857
  • The inventory bottom for 2022 was 240,194
  • The peak for 2023 so far is 472,680
  • For context, active listings for this week in 2015 were 1,108,932

According to Altos Research, new listing data rose weekly but is still trending at all-time lows this year. When you consider that a home seller is a natural homebuyer as well, you can see why the housing market broke after mortgage rates went on a roller coaster last year. Mortgage rates went above 6.25%, then declined back to 5% then spiked back to 7.37%. We have not been able to recover from that mortgage rate spike and it has bled into 2023 as well.

Last year, new listing data, while trending at all-time lows, was at least rising year over year. That is no longer the case after the second half of 2022.

New listing weekly data for this week in May over the past three years:

  • 2023: 62,382
  • 2022: 73,515
  • 2021: 71,191

New listing data from previous years for the same week, to give you some historical perspective:

  • 2017: 90,112
  • 2016: 82,621
  • 2015: 98,436

The NAR data goes back decades and it illustrates just how hard it’s been to get the total active listings back to the historical range of 2 million to 2.5 million. The next existing home sales report comes out this week and we should see an increase in active listings, which have been stuck at 980,000 active listings over the last three months.

NAR: Monthly active listings


NAR: Total active listing data going back to 1982 


I often get asked about the big difference between NAR and Altos Research inventory data. This link explains the difference. Overall, inventory data tends to move together, even if different sources are working with other numbers and have a different methodology.

The 10-year yield and mortgage rates

For 2023, one of the most important economic storylines has been the 10-year yield refusing to break below the critical levels I have talked about for months — the level between 3.37%-3.42%. I believed this level was going to be so hard to break under that I named it the Gandalf line in the sand. No matter how crazy things have gotten in 2023, the 10-year yield only broke it once, at the height of the banking crisis. That didn’t last long as we headed right back higher.

As you can see in the chart below, that line in the sand has been tested many times.


When I talk about mortgage rates, it’s really about where I feel the 10-year yield will go for the year. In my 2023 forecast, I said that if the economy stays firm, the 10-year yield range should be between 3.21% and 4.25%, equating to 5.75% to 7.25% mortgage rates. 

Now if the economy gets weaker, meaning the labor market sees a noticeable rise in jobless claims, then the 10-year yield should break under 3.21%, going all the way to 2.72%. This will take mortgage rates under 6%, and if the spreads return to normal, this can get us below 5% mortgage rates again. Yes, I said below 5% again.

Can you imagine the housing market at that point? We would have much more stability. 

However, for that to happen, jobless claims would need to rise to 323,000 on the four-week moving average. We did have a big jump in jobless claims last week. However, this data line can have some odd quirks week to week, so focus more on the trend and the four-week moving average rather than one week’s data.

From the St. Louis Fed: “Initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits increased by 22,000 in the week ended May 6, to 264,000. The four-week moving average also rose to 245,250.”


Last week, mortgage rates didn’t move much, but as the year goes on, we will be tracking more and more economic data to get clues on the economic cycle and where mortgage rates will be heading. 

Purchase application data

The dynamics of the U.S. housing market changed starting Nov. 9, 2022, when the purchase application data began to react more positively as mortgage rates fell. Since that time, making some holiday adjustments to the data, we have had 17 positive weekly prints versus seven negative prints. Year to date, we have had 10 positive prints versus seven negative prints.

Last week, the weekly data showed a positive 5% print, while the year-over-year data shows a 32% year-over-year decline.


I view this data line as just a stabilization of the housing demand data, coming off a waterfall dive in 2022. However, this stabilization is critical because of what it has done: It has changed the housing dynamics.

When housing demand collapsed last year, the low inventory didn’t provide a big shield against pricing getting much weaker. Pricing in the second half of the year was going negative month to month, of course, from an overheating start in 2022. Starting from Nov. 9, the entire housing dynamics changed from demand collapsing to demand stabilizing.

This explains pricing getting firmer in 2023 due to the low inventory environment. Purchase apps look out 30-90 days before they hit the sales data, so we don’t have the sharp recovery data we saw during the COVID-19 recovery. However, we do have a good stabilization story here today.

I traditionally weigh this data line after the second week of January to the first week of May, and now that we are in the second week of May, I would say the 2023 purchase apps data is slightly positive, with stabilization for sure, just not a booming mortgage demand market with mortgage rates still over 6%.

The week ahead: Big housing data coming up

We have a jam-packed week with economic data, especially for housing. We have the builder’s confidence data, housing starts and existing home sales. Monday, we also have the New York Fed quarterly credit and debt update. Those charts are my favorites as they show how credit stress in the U.S. today doesn’t look like anything we saw in the run-up in 2008.

Since the foreclosure process has started again, we should be working our way back up to pre-COVID-19 levels. However, 30, 60, and 90-day lates are near all-time lows, and it took many years to build up the credit stress we saw from 2005 to 2008, before the job-loss recession.


Retail sales come out on Tuesday, which can move the bond market depending on what the report shows. As the year progresses, all these reports will give us more clues to see where the economy is heading. That’s critical since economic data can move the bond market and what can move the 10-year lower or higher drives mortgage rates as well. If mortgage rates head lower, we could see inventory drawn down faster during the seasonal decline period of fall and winter.

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Homes listed for sale in early June sell for $7,700 more

New Zillow research suggests the spring home shopping season may see a second wave this summer if mortgage rates fall
The post Homes listed for sale in…



  • A Zillow analysis of 2023 home sales finds homes listed in the first two weeks of June sold for 2.3% more. 
  • The best time to list a home for sale is a month later than it was in 2019, likely driven by mortgage rates.
  • The best time to list can be as early as the second half of February in San Francisco, and as late as the first half of July in New York and Philadelphia. 

Spring home sellers looking to maximize their sale price may want to wait it out and list their home for sale in the first half of June. A new Zillow® analysis of 2023 sales found that homes listed in the first two weeks of June sold for 2.3% more, a $7,700 boost on a typical U.S. home.  

The best time to list consistently had been early May in the years leading up to the pandemic. The shift to June suggests mortgage rates are strongly influencing demand on top of the usual seasonality that brings buyers to the market in the spring. This home-shopping season is poised to follow a similar pattern as that in 2023, with the potential for a second wave if the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates midyear or later. 

The 2.3% sale price premium registered last June followed the first spring in more than 15 years with mortgage rates over 6% on a 30-year fixed-rate loan. The high rates put home buyers on the back foot, and as rates continued upward through May, they were still reassessing and less likely to bid boldly. In June, however, rates pulled back a little from 6.79% to 6.67%, which likely presented an opportunity for determined buyers heading into summer. More buyers understood their market position and could afford to transact, boosting competition and sale prices.

The old logic was that sellers could earn a premium by listing in late spring, when search activity hit its peak. Now, with persistently low inventory, mortgage rate fluctuations make their own seasonality. First-time home buyers who are on the edge of qualifying for a home loan may dip in and out of the market, depending on what’s happening with rates. It is almost certain the Federal Reserve will push back any interest-rate cuts to mid-2024 at the earliest. If mortgage rates follow, that could bring another surge of buyers later this year.

Mortgage rates have been impacting affordability and sale prices since they began rising rapidly two years ago. In 2022, sellers nationwide saw the highest sale premium when they listed their home in late March, right before rates barreled past 5% and continued climbing. 

Zillow’s research finds the best time to list can vary widely by metropolitan area. In 2023, it was as early as the second half of February in San Francisco, and as late as the first half of July in New York. Thirty of the top 35 largest metro areas saw for-sale listings command the highest sale prices between May and early July last year. 

Zillow also found a wide range in the sale price premiums associated with homes listed during those peak periods. At the hottest time of the year in San Jose, homes sold for 5.5% more, a $88,000 boost on a typical home. Meanwhile, homes in San Antonio sold for 1.9% more during that same time period.  


Metropolitan Area Best Time to List Price Premium Dollar Boost
United States First half of June 2.3% $7,700
New York, NY First half of July 2.4% $15,500
Los Angeles, CA First half of May 4.1% $39,300
Chicago, IL First half of June 2.8% $8,800
Dallas, TX First half of June 2.5% $9,200
Houston, TX Second half of April 2.0% $6,200
Washington, DC Second half of June 2.2% $12,700
Philadelphia, PA First half of July 2.4% $8,200
Miami, FL First half of June 2.3% $12,900
Atlanta, GA Second half of June 2.3% $8,700
Boston, MA Second half of May 3.5% $23,600
Phoenix, AZ First half of June 3.2% $14,700
San Francisco, CA Second half of February 4.2% $50,300
Riverside, CA First half of May 2.7% $15,600
Detroit, MI First half of July 3.3% $7,900
Seattle, WA First half of June 4.3% $31,500
Minneapolis, MN Second half of May 3.7% $13,400
San Diego, CA Second half of April 3.1% $29,600
Tampa, FL Second half of June 2.1% $8,000
Denver, CO Second half of May 2.9% $16,900
Baltimore, MD First half of July 2.2% $8,200
St. Louis, MO First half of June 2.9% $7,000
Orlando, FL First half of June 2.2% $8,700
Charlotte, NC Second half of May 3.0% $11,000
San Antonio, TX First half of June 1.9% $5,400
Portland, OR Second half of April 2.6% $14,300
Sacramento, CA First half of June 3.2% $17,900
Pittsburgh, PA Second half of June 2.3% $4,700
Cincinnati, OH Second half of April 2.7% $7,500
Austin, TX Second half of May 2.8% $12,600
Las Vegas, NV First half of June 3.4% $14,600
Kansas City, MO Second half of May 2.5% $7,300
Columbus, OH Second half of June 3.3% $10,400
Indianapolis, IN First half of July 3.0% $8,100
Cleveland, OH First half of July  3.4% $7,400
San Jose, CA First half of June 5.5% $88,400


The post Homes listed for sale in early June sell for $7,700 more appeared first on Zillow Research.

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February Employment Situation

By Paul Gomme and Peter Rupert The establishment data from the BLS showed a 275,000 increase in payroll employment for February, outpacing the 230,000…



By Paul Gomme and Peter Rupert

The establishment data from the BLS showed a 275,000 increase in payroll employment for February, outpacing the 230,000 average over the previous 12 months. The payroll data for January and December were revised down by a total of 167,000. The private sector added 223,000 new jobs, the largest gain since May of last year.

Temporary help services employment continues a steep decline after a sharp post-pandemic rise.

Average hours of work increased from 34.2 to 34.3. The increase, along with the 223,000 private employment increase led to a hefty increase in total hours of 5.6% at an annualized rate, also the largest increase since May of last year.

The establishment report, once again, beat “expectations;” the WSJ survey of economists was 198,000. Other than the downward revisions, mentioned above, another bit of negative news was a smallish increase in wage growth, from $34.52 to $34.57.

The household survey shows that the labor force increased 150,000, a drop in employment of 184,000 and an increase in the number of unemployed persons of 334,000. The labor force participation rate held steady at 62.5, the employment to population ratio decreased from 60.2 to 60.1 and the unemployment rate increased from 3.66 to 3.86. Remember that the unemployment rate is the number of unemployed relative to the labor force (the number employed plus the number unemployed). Consequently, the unemployment rate can go up if the number of unemployed rises holding fixed the labor force, or if the labor force shrinks holding the number unemployed unchanged. An increase in the unemployment rate is not necessarily a bad thing: it may reflect a strong labor market drawing “marginally attached” individuals from outside the labor force. Indeed, there was a 96,000 decline in those workers.

Earlier in the week, the BLS announced JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) data for January. There isn’t much to report here as the job openings changed little at 8.9 million, the number of hires and total separations were little changed at 5.7 million and 5.3 million, respectively.

As has been the case for the last couple of years, the number of job openings remains higher than the number of unemployed persons.

Also earlier in the week the BLS announced that productivity increased 3.2% in the 4th quarter with output rising 3.5% and hours of work rising 0.3%.

The bottom line is that the labor market continues its surprisingly (to some) strong performance, once again proving stronger than many had expected. This strength makes it difficult to justify any interest rate cuts soon, particularly given the recent inflation spike.

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Mortgage rates fall as labor market normalizes

Jobless claims show an expanding economy. We will only be in a recession once jobless claims exceed 323,000 on a four-week moving average.



Everyone was waiting to see if this week’s jobs report would send mortgage rates higher, which is what happened last month. Instead, the 10-year yield had a muted response after the headline number beat estimates, but we have negative job revisions from previous months. The Federal Reserve’s fear of wage growth spiraling out of control hasn’t materialized for over two years now and the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9%. For now, we can say the labor market isn’t tight anymore, but it’s also not breaking.

The key labor data line in this expansion is the weekly jobless claims report. Jobless claims show an expanding economy that has not lost jobs yet. We will only be in a recession once jobless claims exceed 323,000 on a four-week moving average.

From the Fed: In the week ended March 2, initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits were flat, at 217,000. The four-week moving average declined slightly by 750, to 212,250

Below is an explanation of how we got here with the labor market, which all started during COVID-19.

1. I wrote the COVID-19 recovery model on April 7, 2020, and retired it on Dec. 9, 2020. By that time, the upfront recovery phase was done, and I needed to model out when we would get the jobs lost back.

2. Early in the labor market recovery, when we saw weaker job reports, I doubled and tripled down on my assertion that job openings would get to 10 million in this recovery. Job openings rose as high as to 12 million and are currently over 9 million. Even with the massive miss on a job report in May 2021, I didn’t waver.

Currently, the jobs openings, quit percentage and hires data are below pre-COVID-19 levels, which means the labor market isn’t as tight as it once was, and this is why the employment cost index has been slowing data to move along the quits percentage.  


3. I wrote that we should get back all the jobs lost to COVID-19 by September of 2022. At the time this would be a speedy labor market recovery, and it happened on schedule, too

Total employment data

4. This is the key one for right now: If COVID-19 hadn’t happened, we would have between 157 million and 159 million jobs today, which would have been in line with the job growth rate in February 2020. Today, we are at 157,808,000. This is important because job growth should be cooling down now. We are more in line with where the labor market should be when averaging 140K-165K monthly. So for now, the fact that we aren’t trending between 140K-165K means we still have a bit more recovery kick left before we get down to those levels. 

From BLS: Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 275,000 in February, and the unemployment rate increased to 3.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in health care, in government, in food services and drinking places, in social assistance, and in transportation and warehousing.

Here are the jobs that were created and lost in the previous month:


In this jobs report, the unemployment rate for education levels looks like this:

  • Less than a high school diploma: 6.1%
  • High school graduate and no college: 4.2%
  • Some college or associate degree: 3.1%
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 2.2%

Today’s report has continued the trend of the labor data beating my expectations, only because I am looking for the jobs data to slow down to a level of 140K-165K, which hasn’t happened yet. I wouldn’t categorize the labor market as being tight anymore because of the quits ratio and the hires data in the job openings report. This also shows itself in the employment cost index as well. These are key data lines for the Fed and the reason we are going to see three rate cuts this year.

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