If a home’s list price is the seller’s starting gate and the final purchase price the buyer’s finish line, there’s a multitude to be learned in the distance between them—especially in today’s fraught and ever-elusive real estate market.
You hear an increasingly common mantra from real estate agents across the U.S.: Homes priced right still sell fast—and often for above the listing price.
The emphasis being on the priced right part.
But what that means varies widely in different parts of the nation—as does just how close or far from the original list price homes are selling for right now.
Realtor.com® crunched the data to determine the markets where seller’s expectations and buyer’s realities seem closely aligned and the places where they’re most out of whack. We looked at the sale-to-listing-price ratio, an indispensable figure for homeowners considering selling, which can also be useful for buyers who want to know what sort of bargaining range to expect.
So where are those metros where buyers are still paying above the list price to nail their dream homes—and where are they able to snag a deal for less than the asking price?
The numbers indicate that a lot of sellers in this era of high mortgage rates and low affordability are falling into the same trap: thinking they might be the exception to cooling prices. Their homes often wind up sitting on the market, getting a price reduction, and eventually selling for less than they might have had the initial price been better calibrated to the market, which can create competition among potential buyers.
There’s a not-so-surprising set of characteristics that defines the two ends of this spectrum.
With the exception of one major outlier, the places where homes are still selling above the listing price are traditionally more affordable, medium-sized markets in the Midwest and the Northeast. San Jose, CA, is also on the list, but you’ll read about the quirk that puts this million-dollar-median market on the list.
“These are all areas that have maintained high demand relative to the rest of the county,” says Hannah Jones, a Realtor.com economic analyst. “Buyers need to stay competitive in these markets.”
On the other side, homebuyers are snagging the best deals below the listing price in places that got the hottest during the COVID-19-era pump, in the West and the South. Gravity eventually kicked in, and places like Austin, TX, and Boise, ID, which had led the nation in home price appreciation for the past few years, have seen the average home sell for 7%, 9%, and even 12% below the list price over the past few months.
“This is driven by seller expectation not matching up with the conditions in those markets,” says Jones. “It says sellers need to meet buyers where they are.”
To find the sale-to-listing-price ratio, the Realtor.com data team started with the individual home sale transaction data in March, matched the sale to the listing in the multiple listing service—and then calculated the difference between the initial listing price and eventual sale price. We aggregated these figures to the metropolitan level; then, from the top 100 metro areas, we selected those where homes are selling on average above the listing price and those where they’re selling the most below the listing price. We’ve expressed the figure in the percentage difference. (Metropolitan areas include the nearby cities that make up the larger population area.)
March median sale price: $210,000
Median difference from the listing price: 6.1%
Sitting on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, Rochester leads our list of places where sellers are still seeing sales above the listing price, with the March median sale price more than 6% above the listing price.
The area has been known as a stable market with a strong health care and education industry, which provides a steady flow of high-income renters. The city’s downtown area has undergone significant redevelopment in recent years, with new residential, commercial, and entertainment developments.
Rochesterites have easy access to hiking and biking along the Genesee Riverway Trail, wine tasting in the famous Finger Lakes region, and skiing and snowboarding in the winter at Bristol Mountain about 30 miles south.
Tiffany Hilbert, a real estate agent at Team Hilbert at Keller Williams Realty Greater Rochester, says she’s seen homes selling for far above the listing price recently.
“I just saw one the other day that closed $75,000 over asking,” she says.
And similar data that she tracks for the area shows April and May already look like they will have more price appreciation and sales above the listing price.
“Condos and townhomes are selling for about 11% above asking price right now,” Hilbert says. “And in April, the average sale-to-listing price is 17% above, for existing single-family homes.”
March median sale price: $289,100
Median difference from the listing price: 2.5%
Kansas City has been a gem of home affordability in recent years. Prices here have been between 5% and 10% less expensive per square foot than the national average over the past few years. So it’s no surprise to see the area’s strength in the current housing market.
The city straddles the Missouri-Kansas border and was a historical center in the American jazz scene of the early 20th century, due largely to the famous musicians who hailed from the area, including Count Basie and Charlie Parker. It was also the hometown of President Harry S. Truman.
Now, the city is dotted with new high-rise apartments and office buildings, as the area’s technology sector has surged. Meanwhile, the cost of living has remained relatively low, driving the population up by around 10% over the past decade, almost double the national pace.
March median sale price: $292,000
Median difference from the listing price: 1.9%
Connecticut’s capital city has been on several of the hottest housing markets lists recently, so it tracks that the average home sale comes with a price slightly above the asking price.
Hartford, known as the “Insurance Capital of the World,” is about 45 minutes from New Haven, 90 minutes from Boston, and a little over 2 hours from New York City, making it attractive to commuters who might have to be in their office only a couple of days out of the week. Demand for homes has steadily nudged up in recent years.
“Homes [here] were below market ” prior to the pandemic, says Amy Chorew, vice president of learning at Better Homes & Gardens Realty in Hartford. “COVID made everyone more aware of the value of homeownership.”
Demand in more suburban communities, a little farther out from the population hubs of the coastal Northeast, rose during the past few years—and with it, prices rose.
“Lots of young people [who left] are now coming back,” Chorew says.
March median sale price: $224,373
Median difference from the listing price: 0.9%
Wichita’s transformation over the past 150 years is a quintessentially American tale, going from a cattle drive destination, which earned it the nickname “Old Cowtown” in the late 19th century, to global aviation capital in the 20th, with companies such as Boeing and Cessna headquartered here.
But the city’s historically low cost of living and relatively more affordable homes have set it up to be a resilient housing market today.
Even in 2019, before the pandemic pump pushed home prices through the roof in many markets, Wichita had homes selling very close to the asking price, which was better than the average then.
Now the city is one of only a few markets where home sellers can still expect to see a sale price above the asking price.
March median sale price: $1,382,500
Median difference from the listing price: 0.1%
As the biggest city in the San Francisco Bay Area (sorry, SF!), San Jose is known for its starring role in the tech industry. And as a result, it’s also become known for its eye-popping home prices. With a median home price north of $1.3 million, San Jose is not your average housing market.
Today’s high prices are key to understanding why the sale price is still just a hair above the asking price, despite widespread layoffs in the tech industry. Put simply, buyers in markets like these live in a world of their own.
“If you’re shopping in a market where the median listing price is $1.3 million, you are less constricted by prices or interest rates, in general,” says Jones, of Realtor.com.
Sky-high prices are nothing new here, she says, so the idea that the market is pricey is already baked into buyer expectations.
Prices in San Jose dropped a little after interest rates went up in mid-2022, but they have been rising again since the beginning of the year and are now less than 1% below the all-time high set last June.
In nearby San Francisco, a similar trend has put the sale-to-listing-price difference at about zero—meaning homes are selling for the listing price—and prices there have been rising again and are only 4.5% below the June 2022 peak.
“It’s not as though it’s gotten astronomically more expensive than it has been,” adds Jones.
Metros where homes are selling below the list price
March median sale price: $449,120
Median difference from the listing price: -6.8%
Austin, again topping the list of places where the market “correction” has been the most pronounced, leads all other metros in the difference between the sale price and list price, with sales almost 7% below what sellers have been asking for.
In keeping with the unofficial motto of the city, the pandemic-era demand certainly kept Austin’s home prices weird. In May 2021, the average sale was 9% above the asking price.
The massive influx of buyers in Austin has been attributed to a confluence of positive factors. The city has a strong tech sector, which has attracted a young, highly educated workforce. The downtown has seen big redevelopment and the resultant luxury apartments, office buildings, and entertainment venues, and the city has earned its rep as the cultural hub of Texas, with many live-music venues and festivals such as South by Southwest.
Rising interest rates and affordability issues have led to a reversal from just a couple of years ago, but the low point might be behind us now, as homes were selling at 10% below the listing price in January.
“Austin inventory is up 258% year over year,” Jones says. “It’s leading the country for inventory increases. So if sellers want to sell their homes, they’re generally having to sell for less than what they listed for.”
March median sale price: $455,800
Median difference from the listing price: -6.4%
It seems Austin can’t be on any superlatives list without Boise being there, too. Though Boise is about one-third the size, the Idaho capital has been on a similar trajectory.
With copious outdoor lifestyle amenities, from hiking and biking to rafting and skiing, Boise had been a growing market. Home prices were around 20% above the U.S. average before the pandemic.
During the pandemic, things went a bit nuts here: Homeowners in denser, more expensive urban hubs outside the area cashed in their equity and decamped to Boise in search of larger and more affordable homes. But that interest drove listing prices up by more than 60% during the pandemic.
Since last summer, listing prices have come down about 10%. And our data shows the average sale was about 6.5 percentage points below the listing price in March.
March median sale price: $344,990
Median difference from the listing price: -6.1%
Perched on the northeastern corner of Florida and abutting the Atlantic coast, Jacksonville has become another city that saw an influx of demand during the past few years.
Home prices in Jacksonville—and the difference between the sale price and listing price— tracked closely with the U.S. average early in the pandemic period. For most of 2021 and 2022, sale prices in Jacksonville were almost exactly at the listing price. But like the U.S. more broadly, that’s slumped.
Since September last year, the sale price has dropped further and further below the list price.
Elysia Stobbe, a mortgage lender and real estate author in Jacksonville, says the trend has already hit a low point and has begun to bounce back. Our analysis goes through March, and Stobbe says April was a turning point.
“The past three weeks, my phone has been ringing off the hook,” she says. “And new listings are up 4%.”
Buyers and sellers in today’s market are especially motivated, given the hurdle of high interest rates.
“It means they really do want to upsize or downsize, or they have to move for a life event, or they really want to get that first home,” she says. “And we’re seeing sellers be a little more reasonable.”
March median sale price: $390,000
Median difference from the listing price: -5.9%
The Las Vegas housing market has gone from blistering to as chilly as a midwinter desert night. This is nothing new for the city built on gambling. The area was the epicenter of the housing crash of the late 2000s, and again the city shows up on the list of places where homes are selling below the asking price.
For sellers who know when to hold and know when to fold, last summer was the time to sell, when listing prices hit 50% growth since the beginning of the pandemic. Those prices have dipped about 9% since then.
The March median sale price came in at 6% below the sticker price, but that’s a bit of an improvement since November 2022, when sales were 9% below asking.
March median sale price: $260,000
Median difference from the listing price: -5.4%
New Orleans, a historically and culturally rich gem of the South, rounds out the list, with home sales in March about 5.5 percentage points below the list price.
The reason? A combination of having simply gotten too expensive and the skyrocketing price of home insurance in this storm-prone town, says Romula Rhodes, a Realtor® with Latter and Blum in New Orleans.
“The biggest issue right now is the price of insurance,” says Rhodes, who sells real estate in Louisiana and neighboring Mississippi. Costs “have tripled for some people.”
Following years of slow but steady home appreciation after Hurricane Katrina, the combination of recent less affordable prices and exorbitant insurance fees is finally forcing prices down, Rhodes says, like a Mercredi hangover after Mardi Gras.
“The simple fact is that it was getting too expensive for regular folks,” she says. “So it had to correct somehow.”