Housing market starts to balance in September, giving buyers more choices, time

by Liz Hughes

As the housing market starts to moderate, buyers are finding more of a selection, as the calming trends seen over the summer have continued into fall, a new Zillow report has found. 

Home prices and rent growth both eased in September, as homebuyers had more homes to look at, with lower prices and more time to make offers, trends that haven’t been seen in quite a while. The report also found homes stayed on the market longer, and prices tended to decline. 

The Zillow Home Value Index rose to $308,220 last month, up 1.6% from August and 18.4% year over year — a new record high annual appreciation. 

Atlanta’s September ZHVI was $315,033, up 23% year over year and up 2.3% from August.

Yet things aren’t slowing down quite yet. Zillow says September saw the fourth-fastest monthly pace of appreciation, as well as a record pace of yearly appreciation since 2000 with the typical home worth 18.4% more than it was in September 2020. That surpasses August’s year-over-year appreciation record of 17.5%. Nationally, annual appreciation rose in double-digits across all 50 major markets, according to the report. 

Jeff Tucker, Zillow senior economist, said the housing market continued its “gradual return to some semblance of normalcy” last month, helped by the typical cooldown seen every fall. 

“Homes are still selling quickly, and prices have not receded, but it’s not quite as extreme a sellers’ market as we saw back in the spring and summer,” he said in a press release. “Buyers today will benefit from a little more time to pick the right home and a few more listings to choose from.”

September also saw a slight shift in inventory, even though shortages continued. While inventory was down 19.9% from last year and 37.7% from 2019, slow, incremental growth is moving the scales in buyer’s favor after April’s all-time low. Nationwide, September’s inventory rose 0.4% from August.

Atlanta’s housing inventory fell 1.4% from August.

While the report found September’s national inventory increase to be a smaller gain than seen in the previous four months, it still matched pre-pandemic seasonal patterns. September was also the first month the year-over-year inventory deficit was below 20% since June 2020.

“This small sign of relief for buyers is showing itself in the gradually slowing of market velocity,” according to the report. “Homes are taking one day longer to sell than in August, with listings going into the pending stage in a median of just nine days, giving buyers a bit more time to find the homes they’re looking for and make an offer on them before they’re snatched up.”

Monthly rental growth also slowed in September, down 1.3% from August’s high of 1.5% and July’s 2% high, according to the report, cooling in 39 of the 50 largest metros. The average rent in the U.S. is up $213 to $1,888.

According to Zillow’s Observed Rent Index, Atlanta’s rents were $1,872, up 2% from August. 

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