There aren’t enough homes available for sale, but that shortage isn’t just a today problem. It’s been a challenge for years. Let’s take a look at some of the long-term and short-term factors that have contributed to this limited supply.
Underbuilding Is a Long-Standing Problem
One of the big reasons inventory is low is because builders haven’t been building enough homes in recent years. The graph below shows new construction for single-family homes over the past five decades, including the long-term average for housing units completed:
For 14 straight years, builders didn’t construct enough homes to meet the historical average (shown in red). That underbuilding created a significant inventory deficit. And while new home construction is back on track and meeting the historical average right now, the long-term inventory problem isn’t going to be solved overnight.
Today’s Mortgage Rates Create a Lock-In Effect
There are also a few factors at play in today’s market adding to the inventory challenge. The first is the mortgage rate lock-in effect. Basically, some homeowners are reluctant to sell because of where mortgage rates are right now. They don’t want to move and take on a rate that’s higher than the one they have on their current home. The chart below helps illustrate just how many homeowners may find themselves in this situation:
Those homeowners need to remember their needs may matter just as much as the financial aspects of their move.
Misinformation in the Media Is Creating Unnecessary Fear
Another thing that’s limiting inventory right now is the fear that’s been created by the media. You’ve likely seen the negative headlines calling for a housing crash, or the ones saying home prices would fall by 20%. While neither of those things happened, the stories may have dinged confidence enough for people to think it’s better to hold off and wait for things to calm down. As Jason Lewris, Co-Founder and Chief Data Officer at Parcl, says:
“In the absence of trustworthy, up-to-date information, real estate decisions are increasingly being driven by fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”
That’s further limiting inventory because people who would make a move otherwise now feel hesitant to do so. But the market isn’t doom and gloom, even if the headlines are.
The low supply of homes for sale isn’t a new challenge. There are a number of long-term and short-term factors leading to the current inventory deficit. Knowing and being able to explain this to clients is vital in this current market. We need to be able to be the voice of reason in this confusing time, and help our clients make the best decision.