Of all the hyperbolic new benchmarks of the American housing market (Highest-ever national home prices! Fewest-ever days on market! Most expensive teardown shack in history!), there’s one key metric that seems to get the least number of blaring headlines: inventory levels. But maybe that should change. The fact is, the number of properties available for sale in the U.S. has reached nearly historic all-time lows. And this might be the main reason why you’re having trouble affording a new home.
So we set out to find the metros where the number of homes on the market is shrinking at the fastest rate. And what it all means.
The realtor.com® data team calculated the total amount of residential square footage that has disappeared from the market over the past three years. And because inventory shortages are a heck of a lot tougher to visualize than, say, home prices, we put them into perspective. For example, Minneapolis lost the equivalent in inventory of more than twoMalls of America—the largest mall in the nation with 4.9 million square feet—over a three-year period.
Bottom line: The total number of homes for sale is about as low as it’s ever been. Inventory listed on realtor.com in the first six months of 2018 is 18.2% lower than the same period in 2015. The sheer number of homes on the market in January 2018 was only 6.2 million, according to U.S. Census—a gigantic drop-off from the 14.3 million total in January 2009. Current inventory levels are comparable with what they were in the early ’60s, when the Census started collecting the data and the U.S. had roughly half its current population.
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