Inventory Shortage at Crisis Levels in Nation’s Hottest Housing Markets

For-sale inventory is stuck at crisis levels in some of the nation’s hottest housing markets where home values are appreciating fastest. The number of homes for sale nationwide has declined on an annual basis for the past 35 straight months, and just 16.7 percent of a panel of housing expertsii surveyed in December 2017 expect a meaningful increase of home building in 2018, a sign that limited inventory could continue to drive the housing market this year.

 

“Tight inventory fueled by a tight labor market and low interest rates propelled home values to record heights in 2017, but the outlook is now much less certain,” said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas. “Tax reform will put more money in the pocket of the typical buyer, but will limit some housing-specific deductions. Overall, this should increase demand for the most affordable and ease competition somewhat in the priciest market segments. On the supply side, the market is starving for new homes, but it won’t be easy for builders struggling with high and rising land, labor and lumber costs. Aging millennials and young families may be able to find more affordable new homes this year, but they’ll most likely be in further-flung suburbs with more grueling commutes to urban job centers.”

Lack of inventory, coupled with strong demand from home buyers, is one reason why home values across the country are reaching new peaks. The median U.S. home value rose 6.5 percent over the past year to $206,300, the highest it has ever been.