Brian Hamilton: Lagging inventory leads to record prices in 2021 |

Brian Hamilton: Lagging inventory leads to record prices in 2021

Western Nevada County homes sold at higher prices than ever in 2021 and that trend doesn’t look to change in the new year.

The median price for a home sold in western county over the past 12 months is $540,000, nearly 20% higher than homes sold in 2020, according to Multiple Listing Services data.

The median price first surpassed the half-million dollar mark in December 2020, but that new record was broken three more times in 2021, as the median price for homes sold surpassed $500,000 in 11 of 12 months since.

The new record high median price of a home sold in western Nevada County — $565,000 — was set in July and matched again in August, before December sales closed out the year with a $515,000 monthly median price.

Prices aren’t likely to come down soon, as western Nevada County struggles to establish any semblance of a normal inventory of homes on the market.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 12, there were 145 homes for sale locally, down 14% from the same time last year and 60% lower than the 360 homes listed for sale in pre-pandemic January 2019.

Fueled by newfound flexibility for workers to live beyond the limits of a physical commute to work, home buyers are enjoying lower home prices and a higher quality of life in foothill towns of the Sierra Nevada.

“It’s just that the place has become so popular,” said Rob Wassmer, a professor in the Department of Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Sacramento. “What are they calling them? Zoomtowns? Those more desirable places, places where they can now live as long as they’ve got good internet.”

“That’s what started it all, this influx of people into those communities who are cashing out their equity in Sacramento, the Bay Area and Southern California and coming to places like Grass Valley.”


Limited listings lead to multiple offers in a competitive market, and unless a flood of homes is added to the inventory, it’s not likely to shift prices or make much of a dent in the demand for housing statewide, Wassmer said.

“The solution is really about building more,” he said. “But we’re in such a big hole. California needs to be building 150,000 to 200,000 housing units a year for the next 10 years, right? But we’re building about a third of that in a good year.”

The lack of inventory hasn’t slowed sales, as homes sales were up 4% year-over-year and 20% higher than pre-pandemic 2019. The average days on market for a home sold in 2021 was 12 days, including a low monthly average of eight days recorded in May.

In 2020, the average days on market was 21.

In 2019, prior to the pandemic, the average stay on the market for a home sold in western Nevada County was 41 days.

Though the winter season typically sees slower sales and a lower number of listings, the inventory in 2021 is a far cry from what was considered normal in western Nevada County prior to the pandemic.

In 2019, the highest number of homes listed on the local market was 647 homes for sale in July.

In 2021, the most homes for sale in a single month was October’s 297 listings.

Western Nevada County hasn’t had more than 300 homes on the market since June 2020, when there were 356 homes for sale.

Brian Hamilton is a Realtor (Lic.# 02149112) and assistant to the regional manager for the Betsy Hamilton Real Estate Team (Lic.# 01936209) at RE/MAX Gold in Grass Valley. For more information, contact him at or visit

Total homes sold each month in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Graphic by Brian Hamilton


December home sales in western Nevada County:

$515,000 — Median price (2021)

$505,500 — Median price (2020)

18 – Days on market (2021)

19 – Days on market (2020)

131 – Homes sold (2021)

164 – Homes sold (2020)

158 – Homes for sale (2021)

199 – Homes for sale (2020)

Active listings on the market per month in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Graphic by Brian Hamilton
Average days on the market in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Graphic by Brian Hamilton

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