Listed, Listed, Sold! States with the Most Competitive Real Estate Markets

A realtor wearing gloves signs deed to sell a house during the pandemic.

2020 has seen an unrivaled demand from home buyers, and in these states, properties are flying off the market the quickest.

The pandemic has significantly shaped housing markets across the United States. In a world where home is now the office, the gym, and where most nonessential workers or people privileged enough to work remotely are spending nearly all of their time, having a spacious and versatile space is now of the highest priority for many. In fact, the phenomenon of “Zoom towns” has swept the nation as it’s become clear that the new normal of the pandemic era is not going to end anytime soon. These are regions that embody more residential and rural characteristics than a big city, with more spacious properties for less expensive values. Those who can afford to are investing in homes that are more fitting for this new way of life, causing home sales in smaller towns and suburban regions to skyrocket.

The cities with the greatest real estate booms during the pandemic reflect this trend — Insurify’s prior analysis on the city-level found that most of these cities where properties are getting snatched off the market rapidly have the characteristics of a “Zoom town” including property values lower than the relative national average and a small-town feel. Despite sharing similar defining traits, the cities with the greatest uptick in home sales during the pandemic are relatively geographically diverse, spanning from coast to coast, with Northern and Southern representation alike. Curious to understand the landscape of the pandemic housing market at the state level, the data scientists at Insurify examined the data to identify the states where the pandemic has most greatly increased competition in the real estate market.

A heat map showing how competitive the housing market in each state has been during the pandemic in 2020.

Insights

  • National averages. Across the nation, the average state’s competitive market score is 8.38 out of 15. Between March and September 2020, the average share of homes sold above list price was 28.42 percent. In that same time period, the mean number of homes sold per month within 2 weeks of their listing date was 41, and the average month’s supply of property (inventory divided by home sales per month) was 2.41 months
  • A farewell to the coasts? The majority of the states with the most competitive real estate markets are not coastal states that are primarily known for their big cities, like New York and California — in fact, most of the states on the list are in the Midwest and Northwest. This lack of geographic diversity, and specifically a lack of coastal representation, is indicative of a trend where affluent remote workers are looking for less expensive real estate that’s not necessarily in a coastal city where their jobs are headquartered. The increased desirability of ample space at a lower cost, as opposed to the hustle and bustle of a big city where proximity to metropolitan features drives up cost of living, means that real estate markets in states with a greater market for these types of properties are becoming more competitive than ever. 
  • Some, but not total overlap, with the most booming U.S. cities. 5 out of the 10 states with the most competitive real estate markets are home to some of cities with the greatest pandemic real estate booms. Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Minnesota, and Oregon all have cities on the list. Minnesota had the most, with four cities on the previous list.

Methodology

The data scientists at Insurify, a home insurance comparison site, consulted Housing Market Data from Redfin to determine which states have the most competitive real estate markets in 2020. States were evaluated across three metrics: months of supply (inventory divided by home sales, which indicates how long it would take supply to be bought up if no new homes came on the market), share of homes sold above list price (percent of homes sales with a sale price greater than their latest list price covering all homes with a sale date during a given time period), and number of homes that went under contract within two weeks of their listing date

Redfin compiles monthly data on these measures across multiple geographic levels in the United States. To calculate how competitive a state’s real estate market has been during the COVID-19 pandemic, the data scientists at Insurify took the average of each of the three metrics from March-September 2020. These scaled values were then used to create a standardized composite score out of 15 for each state — 15 being the most competitive, while 1 being the least. North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming did not receive scores due to the unavailability of those states’ data.

States with the Most Competitive Real Estate Markets

10. Virginia

  • Competitive Market Score: 10.26 out of 15
  • Percent of homes sold above list price: 37.34%
  • Average number of homes per month sold within 2 weeks of listing date: 45 homes
  • Average months of supply in 2020: 1.57

Rounding out the top of the list is Virginia, a state whose real estate market has been 19 percent more competitive than the national average during the pandemic this year. Virginia scored 10.26 out of 15 on its competitive market score based on the number of homes being sold above list price, and quickly. According to local news source Reston Now, Virginia’s realtors have reportedly described the current market as a “seller’s market” where buyers must be “willing to get aggressive” when it comes to securing a home.

9. Colorado

  • Competitive Market Score: 10.31 out of 15
  • Percent of homes sold above list price: 34.46%
  • Average number of homes per month sold within 2 weeks of listing date: 55 homes
  • Average months of supply in 2020: 1.94

The Centennial State has had the ninth most-competitive real estate market in the nation over the course of the pandemic — its competitive market score exceeds the national average by 19 percent. In fact, two Colorado cities, Breckenridge and Sterling, made Insurify’s list of cities with the greatest pandemic real estate booms, indicating that Colorado’s housing market is soaring. The ease of access to skiing and other outdoor activities across the state is ideal to many pandemic-era homebuyers, for whom small neighborhoods and lots of indoor and outdoor space are particularly appealing. 

8. Idaho

  • Competitive Market Score: 10.66 out of 15
  • Percent of homes sold above list price: 29.51%
  • Average number of homes per month sold within 2 weeks of listing date: 59 homes
  • Average months of supply in 2020: 1.30

It’s getting increasingly more difficult to find that hidden gem of a home on the market in the Gem State, because Idaho’s real estate market is 22 percent more competitive than the national average. Homes in Idaho are flying off the market in the blink of an eye — in fact, Sandpoint, Idaho was one of the cities with the greatest increase in home sales during the pandemic per Insurify’s prior analysis.

7. Indiana

  • Competitive Market Score: 10.73 out of 15
  • Percent of homes sold above list price: 25.24%
  • Average number of homes per month sold within 2 weeks of listing date: 65 homes
  • Average months of supply in 2020: 1.23

Indiana’s real estate market is the seventh-most competitive in the nation, scoring 22 percent higher than the national average. There’s no question that homes in the Hoosier State are becoming harder to come by as properties continue to get bought up at exorbitant rates. A prime example of Indiana’s bustling real estate market is in Madison, which came in second in the nation in Insurify’s rankings of cities with the greatest pandemic real estate booms. 

6. Minnesota

  • Competitive Market Score: 10.95 out of 15
  • Percent of homes sold above list price: 41.87%
  • Average number of homes per month sold within 2 weeks of listing date: 48 homes
  • Average months of supply in 2020: 1.73

Home sales in Minnesota in 2020 are enough to make even the most cynical insurance salesman say, “ah, geez!” Over the course of the pandemic, the real estate market in the Land of 10,000 Lakes has been 24 percent more competitive than the national average. Out of the ten states on the list, Minnesota is home to the highest number of cities with the greatest pandemic real estate booms: Brainerd, Grand Rapids, Marshall and Fergus Falls all made Insurify’s prior rankings, with Fergus Falls snagging the number one spot.

5. Utah

  • Competitive Market Score: 11.21 out of 15
  • Percent of homes sold above list price: 40.67%
  • Average number of homes per month sold within 2 weeks of listing date: 50 homes
  • Average months of supply in 2020: 1.50

The real estate market in the Beehive State has certainly been a-buzz this past year. Utah scored 26 percent higher than the national average on its competitive market score, and it’s easy to see why. Utah’s bountiful natural landscapes and the ski-town suburban communities that have popped up around them are attractive to home-seekers in 2020. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that during the pandemic, an increasing volume of buyers from out of state have been flocking to Utah to invest in new property and settle down. From single-family suburban homes to luxury mountain properties, the high demand for real estate in Utah is unprecedented.

4. Oregon

  • Competitive Market Score: 11.23 out of 15
  • Percent of homes sold above list price: 38.87%
  • Average number of homes per month sold within 2 weeks of listing date: 56 homes
  • Average months of supply in 2020: 1.71

Real estate brokers in the Beaver State have been about as busy as their state’s namesake, as Oregon has had the fourth-most competitive housing market in the nation throughout the pandemic. Oregonian real estate has been 26 percent more competitive than the nationwide mean, with The Dalles, Oregon earning a spot within the top twenty cities with the greatest real estate booms during COVID-19. Oregon’s offerings of abundant nature and rural properties have caused real estate in those locales to skyrocket, as more buyers are in the market to escape the city and settle somewhere more scenic.

3. Kansas

  • Competitive Market Score: 11.37 out of 15
  • Percent of homes sold above list price: 27.16%
  • Average number of homes per month sold within 2 weeks of listing date: 55 homes
  • Average months of supply in 2020: 0*

It seems like more and more potential buyers agree with Dorothy: there’s no place like home, especially when that home is in Kansas. The Sunflower State is home to the third-most competitive housing market during the pandemic. Real estate in Kansas has been 27 percent more competitive than the national average throughout 2020. The surging demand — and home prices — in Kansas in response to stay-at-home orders and the reduced appeal of large cities have caused homes to “fly off the market,” according to reporting from the Kansas City Star. 

2. Nebraska

  • Competitive Market Score: 12.86 out of 15
  • Percent of homes sold above list price: 38.80%
  • Average number of homes per month sold within 2 weeks of listing date: 68 homes
  • Average months of supply in 2020: 1.13

This Midwestern state has seen an unprecedented number of wannabe Cornhuskers entering its real estate market. Nebraska has had the second-most competitive housing market in the United States since the onset of the pandemic; real estate in Nebraska is 35 percent more competitive than the national average. One particularly pressing aspect contributing to the state’s ultra-competitive real estate market is its low supply of available properties,  which dips below the already-low national average by 54 percent.

1. Washington

  • Competitive Market Score: 13.57 out of 15
  • Percent of home sold above list price: 44.74%
  • Average number of homes per month sold within 2 weeks of listing date: 68 homes
  • Average months of supply in 2020: 1.27

The housing market in the Evergreen State is rolling in the green in 2020. Washington takes the top spot in the nation for being the state with the most competitive real estate market throughout the pandemic. Washington’s competitive market score exceeds the national average by 39 percent, indicating that the demand for property has skyrocketed over the past year. Washington’s major cities are home to large tech companies including Microsoft, which recently announced that employees are permitted to work from home indefinitely. Moving out to the more rural, picturesque suburbs of the state seems to be a popular choice among city-dwellers, as plentiful indoor space to work from home and shelter in place is more valuable than ever.

*Months of supply in Kansas in 2020 was listed as 0 across all months analyzed.

If you have questions or comments about this article, please contact insights@insurify.com.

Headlines