By Katie Marriner
For the last several years, the number of homes available for sale in Charlotte, N.C., plunged, making life miserable for home buyers and fueling the upward rise of housing prices in one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities. But as mortgage rates surged this spring, home inventory in Charlotte reversed course dramatically.
In Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located, total home listings almost tripled to 4,676 in June 2022 from 1,700 in March 2022, data analyzed by MarketWatch show.
With mortgage rates rising, the downward trend of home inventory that swept the nation in recent years has started to turn around, but the housing market has a long way to go before homes available for sale approach normalized levels. Mecklenburg County was one of only three big counties that saw housing inventory at least double between March and June, with other counties experiencing more modest inventory increases. Across the nation, housing inventory rose nearly 28% between March 2022 and June 2022.
U.S. housing inventory remains down significantly from five years ago and a competitive market for buyers endures. MarketWatch is tracking the five-year change in total listings at the county level with data from Realtor.com to identify which areas of the country are experiencing housing shortages most acutely.
Realtor.com aggregates data on MLS-listed for-sale homes from Multiple Listing Service Networks across the United States. Total listings are defined as “the total of both active listings and pending listings during the specified month” and should be regarded as “a snapshot measure of how many total listings can be expected on any given day of the specified month,” according to Realtor.com’s data dictionary .
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In the first six months of 2022, national data reflected a sharp five-year decline in inventory as total listings fell over 33% in June 2022 from the same month in 2017. While this decline is steep, it’s an eight percentage point improvement from earlier in the year when the five-year change dipped over 41% in March.
Our analysis using Realtor.com data compares numbers to March because it is commonly accepted as the beginning of the home buying season cycle. Realtor.com, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp /zigman2/quotes/201755982/composite NWSA +0.86% .
A MarketWatch analysis of data for March listings for large markets identified El Paso County, Texas; Wake County, N.C., (Raleigh); and Clark County, Nev. (Las Vegas), as the counties with the largest declines from five years prior. All three declined over 70% from March 2017.
MarketWatch defines large markets as the 59 counties in the U.S. that had at least 5,000 total listings for any month in 2017. Among this group of 59 counties, inventory is down 29% in June from five years ago.
Based on the five-year change among large markets, El Paso has been ranked as the county with the steepest housing inventory decline for every month of 2022 so far. As of June, El Paso County still remains number-one in large markets.
Wake County held the number two spot from March through May, until being replaced in June by Lake County, Ill., located north of Chicago.
Clark County stayed in the number-three spot until June when data showed a marked improvement in inventory for the county, pushing it down to number eight, with a decline in inventory of 49%, compared to 71% in March.
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The big markets with the largest increase in inventory from March 2022 are Mecklenburg County, N.C.; Wake County, N.C.; and Travis County, Texas. They are the only big counties in the nation that have seen housing inventory at least double in the three-month period.
In Mecklenburg County, the five-year inventory change improved from -64% in March to -16% in June.
Across U.S. markets, the national housing inventory change from March to June 2022 shows an increase of almost 28%. That’s a larger increase than during the same period in previous years.