The number of homes for sale is at the lowest level on record, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, who began tracking inventory 18 years ago. That means many home buyers likely will find fewer options this spring, and the homes that are being listed tend to sell fast and at a premium.
The lack of new-home supply is one culprit. Housing starts are only at about 75 percent of their historical average. Builders are focusing on pricier segments of move-up buyers, leaving a big void in the demand for lower cost homes that appeal to first-time home buyers. Builders blame the higher costs for land, labor, and materials as forcing them to concentrate on the higher end of the market.
Builders aren’t the only ones to blame, however. Investors purchased about 4 million distressed properties—mostly in the lower-priced starter home segment—during the housing crash. They have been holding onto these properties, continuing to rent them out rather than selling.
Source: “This Is What’s Behind the Severe Housing Drought,” CNBC (March 23, 2017)