It’s hot housing market with data that’s a hot mess

The Johnson City metro area’s housing has again been tagged as a hot housing market heating up by Reltor.com. March’s Hotness Report identified the Kingsport-Bristol’s market as “slightly hot” and moving up.

That contrasts with the Wall Street Journal/Realtor.com Winter Emerging Housing Index. Johnson City has fallen from its previous top 10 status to #40 with a declining status. Kingsport-Bristol is ranked 26th in the nation in the winter index, with a status that is neither declining nor ascending.

And then there’s the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR) March Home Sales Report. It points out existing home sales were up 38% from February and down 7.4% from March last year. NETAR’s report also said prices continued increasing at a double-digit pace. Some consumers wonder, how can sales be up and down and prices still increasing?

What consumers can gather from these and a multitude of battling indexes and opposing housing data points is we’re in a hot market that seems to be in a hot mess when it comes to explaining where it’s going.

There are some reliable forward-looking data for those interested in looking at three-month and 12-month moving averages. NETAR’s pending sales report is always a good indicator of what closing will look like a month or two down the road. And if you dig deep and look at the things like median time on the market, median listing price v. median sales price trends, and a couple of other wonky trend lines, there are insights to be had. But more often or not, the good is tossed out by clickbait reports and dueling spokespeople with strong opinions.

NETAR’s reports show there is some sales softening despite March’s month-over-month gyration. Much of that spike was driven by mortgage rate increases goosing buyers to lock in a rate. It’s a given that more increases are coming. How much and how fast is another matter.

Local data and the market dynamics also don’t support the claims that big price drops are just around the corner. The price growth rate will likely slow, and the annual rate increase will drop back in the single digits, but a big price drop is not likely given current conditions.

The Emerging Markets Index is bouncing around and beginning to lose a little luster with some readers since the rankings don’t square with most market trend data. But it’s an index with half of its data based on housing and half on economic and socioeconomic data. So that should be expected. It’s billed as a tool to help readers find good places to invest in real estate in good places to live. So far, there are a lot of them.

Realtor.com’s Hotness Report, which hopefully has resumed as a monthly report, has trend-tracking merit. It’s based on market demand, as measured by unique viewers per property on Realtor.com. The pace of the market is measured by the number of days a listing remains active on Realtor.com.

Here’s how March’s hotness analysis looked.


  • Hot market moving up compared to last month and last year.
  • Ranked #13 out of 300 metro areas.
  • Inventory moving 17% faster than last year and 10.5 days faster than the U.S. overall.
  • Average listing views 2.9 times higher than the U.S. average.


  • Slightly hot market heating up from last month and last year.
  • Ranked #44 out of 300 metros.
  • Inventory moving 41% faster than last year and 1.5 days faster than the U.S. overall.
  • Average listing views 2.4 times higher than the U.S. average.

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