: ‘The momentum in the housing market has shifted to the Sun Belt’: 5 hottest metros are in the South

The housing market has cooled in recent years, but it’s still hot in some parts of the U.S. 

“It’s an exciting time to be a realtor in Gainesville,” said Dani Burns, who joined the real-estate profession 21 years ago, and who now works with Keller Williams Lanier Partners. Out of the 15 homes she’s sold so far this year, only one has been for an investor. In fact, most of the buyers she works with were purchasing their second or third home.

Many real-estate markets in the South are still seeing strong demand from home buyers, despite a sharp rise in mortgage rates and an inventory squeeze, according to a new report by Bankrate. The 30-year fixed rate is above 6%, more than double where it was two years ago, and buyers are finding fewer new home listings to choose from. The number of new listings fell by 24% in May, real-estate brokerage Redfin RDFN, +2.03% said last Thursday.

In fact, the five hottest housing markets in the U.S. are all in the South, according to a Bankrate report published on Monday. 

“The momentum in the housing market has shifted to the Sun Belt, and especially to Georgia, the Carolinas and Florida,” Jeff Ostrowski, an analyst at Bankrate, said in the report. 

“While many parts of the U.S. are experiencing price declines, home values have held steady in the Southeast. This region’s comparatively affordable prices are attractive to buyers moving in from more expensive parts of the country, but the still-strong values create challenges for first-time buyers,” he added.

Gainesville, which is an hour’s drive north of Atlanta, took the top spot. That metro area was followed by Knoxville, Tenn., Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla., and Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C. 

Five hottest metros in the U.S.

  1. Gainesville, Ga.
  2. Knoxville, Tenn.
  3. Cape-Coral, Fort Myers, Fla.
  4. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
  5. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C.

(Source: Bankrate)

The median price of a home sold in Gainesville was $520,345 in May 2023, according to data from Altos Research, while the median price of a home in the U.S. hovers at around $408,000.

Affordable homes, in particular, were in demand, Burns said. Homes listed at $350,000 and under were getting one to two offers, she said. And of the five homes she showed in the last week, two were already off the market.

Bankrate — which ranked the top metro areas in the U.S. by population size as part of a study titled the “Bankrate Housing Heat Index”— looked at factors such as house-price appreciation, job growth, population growth, listings’ days spent on the market, and more, to identify the “hottest” real-estate markets in the U.S.

In Gainesville, Burns said she’s seen an inflow of people not only moving from Atlanta, but from states like Florida, and New York. Floridians in particular comment on how they can enjoy the weather without the looming threat of a hurricane, Burns noted.

Since the home-buying frenzy during the early days of the pandemic, Burns said that business has slowed — but it hasn’t stalled. “Instead of having 30 offers in one day, we might have one offer in 30 days,” she advises home sellers. “We’re seeing a better balance between supply and demand.”

Conversely, the three “coldest” housing markets and metro areas in the U.S. ranked by Bankrate were Chico, Calif., Shreveport-Bossier City, La., and Medford, Ore.

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