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More than one-third of houses for sale are new builds

New construction made up greater share of housing inventory than ever before in December

More than one-third (34.1%) of U.S. single family homes on the market in December were new construction, according to a report from Redfin published on Monday. A year prior, only 25.4% of home for sale were new builds.

Over the past 10 year, newly built homes have taken up an increasing portion of the U.S. housing market, with a major acceleration in mid-2020 after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A surge in home buying demand since the start of the pandemic due to low mortgage rates and an increase in remote work flexibility has put a strain on existing home inventory causing homebuilders to try to make up for the lack of inventory.

Overall housing inventory dropped to a record low in December. Existing home inventory fell 14.2% year over year representing 1.8 months of supply at the current sales pace, while new build inventory rose 34.8% from the year prior, resulting in a six month supply at the current sales rate.

As the share of homes for sale that are new builds has increased, the share of home sales that are newly built remained around 11%, highlighting that homebuyer demand is outpacing supply.

“A lot of pre-owned homes are being listed, but they are just selling off so quickly–typically in a matter of days–while new homes take longer to sell,” Shehayar Bokhari, a Redfin economist, said in a statement. “So as a homebuyer, you’re increasingly likely to see new builds when you look up homes for sale in your target area. Existing homes tend to be less expensive and fly off the shelves faster, so people who are just getting into the market should speak to their lender and agent about preparing to act quickly when an existing home that meets their criteria does hit the market this winter.”

Home building slowed after the Great Recession and has never truly recovered. Since the start of the pandemic, homebuilders have not only had to contend with increased demand, but supply chain delay, skyrocketing lumber costs and labor shortages. As a result, the price of newly build homes has increased 3.4% year over year to $377,700 in December according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Houston has the largest share of newly build homes with 39.5% of for sale homes being new construction, the greatest share of the 50 metros analyzed. Minneapolis and San Antonio rank second and third with 38.3% and 37.5% of housing inventory being new builds, respectively. Texas has relatively lenient construction regulations and typically more land to build new homes on, so metros in this state tend to have the largest shares of new builds.

On the other end, San Diego, Anaheim and Los Angeles had the smallest shares of new construction inventory in December at 3.1%, 3.8% and 4.4%, respectively.

The number of building permits issued was up 6.5% year of year in December and up 9.1% from the month prior. This increase in the number of permits is an indicator that the supply and sales of newly built homes will continue to increase in 2022.