To better illustrate how capricious the real estate industry was in 2022, Inman searched high and low for rogue data points that drove the housing market and best reflected this year’s wild tumble.

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Twenty twenty-two was a year that was impossible to calculate.

What began as an extension of 2021’s high-flying real estate frenzy soon enough tumbled and fell to a near standstill by the Federal Reserve’s hiking of interest rates, rendering borrowing costs too pricy for most would-be homebuyers, who, no matter how hard they tried, couldn’t bend the numbers to their will. 

As rates rose, existing-home sales fell, builders pumped the brakes, price growth decelerated and property sat on the sidelines far longer than forecasted. Real estate companies, meanwhile, braced for lean times after riding high through most of 2020 and 2021, with thousands of workers laid off and quarterly earnings reports showing losses — in some cases, to an unprecedented degree. 

But for real estate brokerages, investors and the industry at large, the calculations weren’t much rosier. Executives got sued, balance sheets went sideways and — for iBuyers, in particular — the math never really added up.

But in compiling our list of the data that drove real estate in 2022, we neither focused solely on doom and gloom nor the typical housing market fundamentals. Instead, we sought to shine a light on the wrinkled corners of the spreadsheet as well, like the real estate listings that went viral in 2022, the numbers behind the biggest transactions and even the population of Zillow’s most-searched city.

To better measure an immeasurable 2022, Inman searched high and low for the rogue data points that drove the industry and best reflected the unpredictable year soon to be behind us. While they’re not all individually fundamental, taken as a whole they paint a vivid picture of a housing market turned on its head. 

35.4 percent: Home sales plummet

Sales of existing homes dropped 35.4 percent between November 2021 and November 2022, when the most recent data from the National Association of Realtors was available.

The rapid rise in mortgage rates has slowed homebuying activity dramatically across the country after it reached a fever pitch during 2021, with rates hovering around 7 percent at times during November.

$928 million: Opendoor’s stunning losses 

The iBuyer Opendoor tallied jaw-dropping losses during the third quarter of 2022, racking up just shy of a billion dollars in losses at $928 million, finding itself a victim of the slowing housing market as it was forced to sell houses for less than it purchased them.

Shortly after its third-quarter earnings report, the iBuyer dramatically shook up its executive suite, removing founder Eric Wu as CEO while its president resigned. The same month saw Redfin shut down its iBuyer RedfinNow, signaling a shaky future for iBuyers. 

$320 million: Compass’ savings pledge

New York Stock Exchange Twitter (@NYSE)

Executives at Compass promised shareholders they would find a way to trim $320 million worth of fat off their losses as it was revealed they lost $101 million during the second quarter of 2022.

One of the ways they promised to do this was by eliminating parts of the recruitment package that helped them grow to the largest company of their kind in the United States. In mid-August, the brokerage announced they would stop offering stock and cash options to new recruits, and that new agents would have to use a standard commission split.

≈ 18,000: Real estate layoffs galore

More than 18,00 workers were laid off by real estate companies during 2022, based on Inman’s monitoring of the industry.

With home sales dampened by high mortgage rates and recession fears escalating, a long list of companies decided to shed staff, including Compass, Redfin, Zillow and Blend.

The layoffs to attract the most attention — including from outside of the real estate industry — were those executed by the mortgage financing company Better, who first laid off 900 workers in a single Zoom call last December, attracting near-universal scorn, before laying off 3,000 more workers in March. 

$888: Ownership costs soar

twindesign / Shutterstock.com

It cost $888 more per month to own a home than rent one by the end of 2022, according to data from John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

The price disparity was a dramatic jump from the beginning of the year when super-low mortgage rates made buying a home more economical than renting one in most cities. While rents rose at a breakneck pace as well, homeownership costs rose even more, thanks to sky-high interest rates. 

8.4 percent: Rents slow their roll 

Getty Images

Rents rose 8.4 percent on a year-to-year basis in November 2021 — the most recent month for which data was available — half the rate they rose at in February 2022, when they jumped 17.1 percent year over year.

Rents even declined 0.4 percent between October and November, according to data from Zillow, closing the door on a nearly two-year period that saw rents increase at an above-average pace every month. 

10.1 percent: Price growth decreases 

David McNew and Getty Images

Price growth for homes in the U.S. slowed to an annual rate of 10.1 percent between October 2021 and October 2022, a significantly slower rate than earlier in 2022, when they reached a peak of 20.1 percent growth in April, according to data from the real estate intelligence firm CoreLogic.

Tapered demand brought on by high mortgage rates has managed to slow home price appreciation significantly but has not yet caused a noticeable drop in values on a national level. CoreLogic economists predict that annual growth will slow to 4.1 percent by October 2023. 

$1 billion: A game-changing lawsuit 

gnagel and iStock.com

A federal court’s ruling in April made it possible for hundreds of thousands of homesellers to ask to be reimbursed for more than $1 billion in commissions they paid to buyer’s agents.

The ruling was a result of a class action suit filed against Realogy/Anywhere RE/MAX, Keller Williams, HomeServices of America and the National Association of Realtors, which alleged that the sharing of commissions between listing and buyer brokers violates the Sherman Antitrust Act by inflating seller costs.

The case has since been subject to appeals by Anywhere, which is still listed as Realogy in court papers, and has been postponed to an undetermined date in 2023. 

$173 million: The most expensive sale

Realtor.com

The most expensive home sold in 2022 was this beachfront home near Palm Beach, Florida.

Billionaire internet entrepreneur Jim Clark purchased the sweeping 15-acre property in March 2021 from the Ziff publishing family for $94.2 million, only to turn around and get it under contract in mid-June 2022 for $173 million, The Wall Street Journal first reported.

Lawrence Moens, of Lawrence A. Moens Associates, represented both sides of the deal.

$357,733: The typical home’s value 

The typical home was valued at $357,733 in November 2022 after beginning the year at $334,081 in January, an increase of $23,652, according to data from Zillow.

Home values climbed at a far less dramatic rate than they did in 2021, when they rose by $45,767 between January and November, according to Zillow’s data, partially due to high mortgage rates sapping buyer demand out of the market. 

$393,977: The median sale price 

Andy Dean Photography / Shutterstock.com

The median sale price for the typical U.S. home sat at $393,977 in November 2022, a 2.9 percent increase from the previous year, according to data from Redfin.

The rate of growth slowed dramatically from earlier in the year, such as in January 2022 when the median sales price of $357,300 clocked in at 14 percent higher than the previous year’s median price.

The rapid rise in mortgage rates greatly slowed price growth as buyers retreated from the market but did not manage to bring home prices down significantly. 

≈ 7.5 percent: Mortgage rates peak 

Drew Angerer and Getty Images

Much, if not all, of the pitfalls of the 2022 housing market can be attributed to the steep rise in mortgage rates.

After reaching new lows of less than 3 percent during 2021 rates shot up in 2022, and in October, exceeded 7.5 percent — far above what most analysts predicted they would reach at the beginning of 2022 as the Federal Reserve waged war against inflation. Rates have since retreated slightly from their highs but remain double what they were at the beginning of the year. 

$300 million: A sexual abuse countersuit 

Former Keller Williams CEO John Davis filed a lawsuit against Gary Keller in October for $300 million in damages.

The suit is an attempt by Davis to restore his reputation following his ouster from Keller Williams in the wake of sexual assault allegations against him.

Davis’ suit makes the claim that Davis resigned from Keller Williams on his own accord following a business disagreement with Keller and accuses Keller and former Keller Williams’ President Josh Team of fabricating the allegations to smear him. 

54 points: A decline in homebuilder sentiment 

Shutterstock and sculpies

Homebuilder sentiment plummeted a total of 54 points in 2022, according to the Wells Fargo/National Association of Homebuilders Housing Market Index.

While the index started the year at 83 points in January, it clocked 12-straight months of declines as builders dealt with low buyer traffic and high construction costs due to inflation, ending the year at 31 points.

The 31-point reading represented the lowest builder sentiment score since 2012, not counting the early months of the pandemic in Spring 2020. 

$1,086,000: The difference 3 years makes for The Conjuring house

After purchasing the home in Rhode Island where the events that inspired The Conjuring franchise took place for $439,000 in 2019, the husband and wife paranormal investigator team sold the same house for $1.525 million in 2022, after listing it for just $1.2 million.

The buyer was Jacqueline Nuñez, a real estate developer from Boston. The closing price on the historic and supposedly haunted house illustrates the steep growth in home values that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to take place during 2022, if at a slower rate than the preceding two years.

119,400 likes: A listing goes viral

Image: Zillow

Listing photos of a near-perfect condition midcentury modern home in Sarasota, Florida, on the popular real estate content page Zillow Gone Wild has garnered more than 119,400 likes as of Dec. 2022, making it the page’s most-liked Twitter post ever.

The page is one of the largest among an increasingly popular crop of content creators and curators who have amassed large followings by scouring listing websites for the most interesting, wacky, or creepy listings. 

22,878: The population of Zillow’s hottest market

Getty Images

Zillow’s most-viewed market of 2022 wasn’t a celebrity-packed hotspot or up-and-coming Western metro flush with tech jobs, but a suburb on the outskirts of Kansas City, Missouri.

The listings portal named Prairie Village, Kansas, its most-viewed market for 2022, with the small town of 22,878 on the Kansas-Missouri state line leading the site for page views of for-sale listings at the end of the year.

The popularity of this small suburb emphasizes the swing in emphasis on affordability as borrowing costs reach generational highs and buyers search for new ways to make their dollar go further.

37 days: Time on market increases

Getty Images

The typical American home spent a median of 37 days on market during November 2022, according to Redfin, a 15 percent increase from November 2021.

Homes spent more and more time on market during the latter half of 2022 as mortgage rates increased and the market transitioned away from one of the strongest seller’s markets in years. 

$80 million: Offerpad’s profit streak ends 

Offerpad

Beleaguered iBuyer Offerpad posted a net loss of $80 million during the third quarter of 2022, ending its three-quarter profitability streak as it struggled in the high-mortgage rate housing environment.

Its third-quarter losses were significantly higher than the third quarter of 2021, when it lost only $15.3 million, though its revenue increased 52 percent in the same period.

Shortly after its third-quarter results were announced, the iBuyer received communication from the New York Stock Exchange that it was in danger of being booted from the exchange due to its stock price remaining under $1 for 30 consecutive trading days. 

17 percent: Anywhere’s revenues decline 

Anywhere

Brokerage giant Anywhere Real Estate saw revenues decline 17 percent between the third quarters of 2021 and 2022, as the Madison, New Jersey-based company faced down a “deteriorating market.”

The parent company of name-brand brokerages, such as Sotheby’s International Realty, Corcoran Group and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate raked in $1.8 billion during the third quarter, the second straight quarter in which its revenues declined annually.

As one of the biggest brokerage companies in the U.S., Anywhere’s revenue declines reflected the hardship faced by brokerages across the board as homeownership became unattainable for many due to high borrowing costs and its effect on the brokerage industry. 

13,314: A growing agent count despite the odds 

Compass had an average of 13,314 agents during the third quarter of 2022, a 15 percent jump from the previous year and a net jump of 335 agents from the previous quarter.

The brokerage managed to continue adding to its agent count despite a struggling housing market, with the brokerage losing revenue and racking up more losses during the same quarter. It also showed that it has managed to keep its recruiting prowess, despite cutting back on its recruitment package by doing away with its stock and cash options in recruitment and moving new agents to a standard commission split. 

$88.9 million: A rare third-quarter profit

Getty Images

RE/MAX tallied $88.9 million in revenue and managed to stay profitable during the third quarter of 2022 during an earnings season in which most brokerages hemorrhaged money.

The company totaled $100,000 in profits, making it profitable by the skin of its teeth, yet down significantly from the $5.8 million it tallied in the second quarter, illustrating how quickly and how dramatically the housing market shifted in the latter half of the year.

RE/MAX attributed its ability to stay profitable to revenues from previous acquisitions. 

Email Ben Verde

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