The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t just created massive unemployment and economic hardships for millions, it has also inflated real estate prices across the country. A recent report by Redfin found that the national median home price climbed to $335,519 in November, 14 percent higher than a year earlier — the biggest annual gain since July 2013. A record 35 percent of homes sold for over asking price, and sales were swift, with homes averaging just 27 days on the market, a record low.
Median home prices rose in all 85 of the large markets (population 750,000 or more) that Redfin tracks. This week’s chart shows the 20 markets where the prices changed the most. (Some markets are named for the major cities they encompass and incorporate surrounding commuter areas. Others are defined more broadly, like the Nassau County, N.Y., market.)
It was already hard enough for buyers on the lower end of the economic ladder to save for a down payment and afford a mortgage. But in 2020 it got even harder, because it was in lower-priced markets that sale prices tended to increase the most. Among the 20 markets with the greatest increases during November, 14 had prices below the national median. Meanwhile, San Francisco, the most expensive market (median sale price $1.4 million), had the smallest increase among the cities Redfin tracks, just 1.8 percent over a year.
But that doesn’t mean expensive markets weren’t competitive. In Oakland, Calif., 20th on our list, more than 71 percent of homes sold for over asking in November, with a median sale price of $840,000, representing a 17 percent year-over-year increase.
Are brokers getting rich off commissions from selling all these high-priced homes? Not likely, because there aren’t that many to sell: Among all the markets in the study, supply was 23 percent lower in November than a year earlier, the lowest level on record for the month.