Many Americans are ready and eager to buy a home now. But they are struggling to find one.
Home sales edged down 6.6% in February from the previous month because there simply aren’t enough homes for people to buy.
This lack of supply is also pushing up prices as bidding wars erupt with multiple bids on many homes.
“The housing market is down,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors. “There is a lot of demand but the supply is not coming.”
Yun says U.S. homeowners have collectively earned $ 2 trillion in home equity in the past year alone, with home prices rising 16%.
A typical homeowner has earned $ 25,000 in home equity, Yun says. He says it’s fine if you’re a homeowner, but it exaggerates the wealth gap because for potential first-time buyers, it makes home ownership more difficult to pay.
The number of homes for sale is at an all time high with only two months of supply at the current pace of sales. Once the houses are put on the market, they sell out quickly. Homes are also selling at an all-time high just 20 days after listing.
“An increase in inventory is the best way to deal with soaring real estate costs,” says Yun. He says several factors are contributing to the lack of supply. He says that for years after the housing crash over a decade ago, home builders were building too few houses. Some small home builders went bankrupt during the crash.
“We need to build more houses,” Yun said. He says that during the pandemic, a sharp increase in the price of building materials made it harder to build smaller and more affordable homes in particular.
In addition, he says, some older Americans have been reluctant to put their homes up for sale because they were afraid of catching COVID from people entering their homes as part of the selling process. So these people waited to list them.
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