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Des Moines and Baton Rouge Offers Both Adequate Supply and Affordability

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On average, eight homes were listed for sale for every 1,000 households at the end of the first quarter, compared to the long-term historical average of 17 listings per 1,000 households.

Record low interest rates have made buying a home more affordable this year, but only two of the top 100 metros — Des Moines and Baton Rouge, La.,offer both affordability and an adequate supply of for-sale listings, according to a new analysis released today by realtor.com®.

Overall, homes listed for sale during the first quarter of 2020 were 8 percent more affordable compared to the first quarter of 2019, according to the REALTORS® Affordability Distribution Score, a collaboration between realtor.com® and the National Association of REALTORS®, which measures the affordability of current for-sale homes overall as well as at different income levels.  At the same time, finding a home in most markets is becoming more difficult as the inventory of homes per 1,000 households is down 53 percent from the 20-year average. 

“The lack of affordable homes for sale has been the No. 1 issue facing homebuyers for the last several years,” said realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “The COVID pandemic has eased the affordability side of the equation by lowering interest rates, but it has also prompted many sellers to delay listing their homes. As buyers return, we’ll need to see sellers come back for the housing market to normalize.”

On average, eight homes were listed for sale for every 1,000 households at the end of the first quarter, compared to the long-term historical average of 17 listings per 1,000 households.

Based on the analysis of the top 100 metros, only Des Moines and Baton Rouge had more than 10 active listings per 1,000 households and an affordability score of at least 1.00, making them affordable to households at wide a variety of income levels and relatively well-supplied, with 10.9 and 11.7 listings per 1,000 households and affordability scores of 1.03 and 1.00, respectively. 

Four additional metros — Atlanta, Virginia Beach, Va., Jacksonville, and Lakeland, Fla., — had at least 10 active listings per 1,000 households and an affordability score of at least 0.80, making them relatively affordable.

In contrast, several historically affordable metros — Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y., Columbus, Ohio, Springfield, Mass., and Harrisburg, Pa. — have seen their listings dry up, in part due to the COVID pandemic. At the low end, Buffalo had 2.5 listings per 1,000 households and Harrisburg had 3.6 listings per 1,000 households at the high end.

Q1 2020 affordable markets

MetroActive
Listings* 
Number of 
Households* 
Listings Per
Households**
Current 
Listings 
vs. Long 
Term 
Average**
Median 
Listing 
Price 
(April)
Affordability 
Score 
(April)
Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa3,026277,78010.90.63$269,8001.03
Baton Rouge, La3,782323,45511.70.68$248,8001.00
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.37,3512,245,00316.60.96$325,0500.89
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va-N.C.7,252676,05610.70.62$316,0500.89
Jacksonville, Fla8,348620,91413.40.78$311,5450.83
Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.2,991269,06611.10.64$235,0500.87
* As of May 2
**Per 1,000 households

Methodology: The REALTORS® Affordability Distribution Curve and Score is a NAR and realtor.com® data series designed to examine affordability conditions at different income percentiles for all active inventory on the market. The Affordability Distribution Curve examines how many listings are affordable to those in a particular income percentile. The Affordability Score varies between zero and two and is a calculation that is equal to twice the area below the Affordability Distribution Curve on a graph. A score of one or higher generally suggests a market where homes for sale are more affordable to households in proportion to their income distribution.

About realtor.com®
Realtor.com® makes buying, selling and living in homes easier and more rewarding for everyone. Realtor.com®pioneered the world of digital real estate 20 years ago, and today through its website and mobile apps is a trusted source for the information, tools and professional expertise that help people move confidently through every step of their home journey. Using proprietary data science and machine learning technology, realtor.com® pairs buyers and sellers with local agents in their market, helping take the guesswork out of buying and selling a home. 

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