Home buyers and sellers are typically most active in the spring, but as we all know, last spring’s housing market was wildly disrupted by the arrival of the coronavirus in the United States. The housing market bounced back more quickly than the rest of the economy, surprising most people as buyer demand and home prices soared.

Now that 2021’s spring market is underway, buyers should expect another highly competitive season. The number of homes listed for sale is once again extremely low.

Nationally, the number of homes for sale was down by 48.6 percent in February 2021 compared with February 2020, according to Realtor.com’s Monthly Housing Market Trends Report. In addition to overall available listings, which include properties that have been on the market for more than 30 days, newly listed homes declined by 24.5 percent nationally year over year, according to Realtor.com.

To put that in perspective, approximately 207,000 fewer homes were listed for sale in January and February 2021 compared with the average number listed during the first two months of the previous four years. According to Realtor.com, new listings would need to increase by 25 percent year over year in March and April to bring the cumulative year-to-date number of homes for sale back to April 2020’s levels.

Severe weather, including the ice and snow that hit Texas in February, probably affected the number of new listings coming on the market. New listings in Texas declined the most, such as in Austin, where new listings were down 87.8 percent in February compared with February 2020, Dallas (down 79.8 percent), San Antonio (down 77.2 percent) and Houston (down 73.5 percent).

The lack of homes for sale and steady buyer demand meant that home prices continued to rise in February. The median listing price nationwide was $353,000, up 13.7 percent compared with February 2020. Homes are selling faster, too, in a median of 70 days nationwide, 11 days faster than last year at this time.

In the Washington metro area, new listings were down 15.1 percent in February compared with February 2020, and the overall number of homes for sale dropped even more dramatically, by 35.9 percent.

Homes sold in a median of 36 days in February in the region, three days faster than in 2020. Despite these tight market conditions, the median listing price for a home rose just 1 percent, to $499,900 in February, compared with February 2020. That compares with median list price increases of 15.4 percent in Boston, 12.6 percent in New York and 11.8 percent in Philadelphia during that same period.

The median list price changes can be affected by the mix of homes for sale. For example, if several multimillion properties are listed for sale, that drives the median up. If numerous less-expensive and smaller condos are listed, that pushes the median price down.

For the full report, click here.