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Will housing inventory pick up later this year?

Multiple offers, frustrated homebuyers, low inventory, it’s enough to drive an sane person crazy. The lack of homes for sale has hit a crisis-level in recent months, igniting fierce competition, bidding wars and driving prices to an all-time high – but there’s hope on the horizon for weary buyers, according to new survey data from realtor.com. Findings show 10% of homeowners are planning to put their home on the market this year and an additional 16% are planning to list in 2-3 years. 

New data in Zillow’s® Monthly Market Report suggests the inventory crunch bedeviling home searchers may be starting to turn around as record appreciation of home values makes it more enticing to sell.

Although, according to Zillow, continued demand for homes pushed total for-sale inventory down 1.1% in March, the monthly decline was the smallest seen since July. That’s thanks to a rush of new inventory (rising 30% from late February to late March), which signals sellers are following the traditional pattern of listing their homes in spring.

According to realtor.com, 58% of the homes that owners plan to list this year are valued below $350,000, which should provide some relief for first-timers who have had trouble breaking into the market. Of those who plan to sell this year, 63% have already listed or plan to list within 6 months and 76% have already taken steps to begin the process. Realtor.com® surveyed 657 potential home sellers the week of March 29 via HarrisX.

25% more homes may hit the market

“In a typical year, we see about 8% of the nation’s homes hit the market, and we’re expecting about 25% more this year,” said George Ratiu, senior economist, realtor.com. “This signals that many homeowners who were wary to list during the pandemic are getting ready to do so, and this much-needed inventory – especially for starter homes – will begin to relieve buyers’ challenges in a very competitive market. Despite this good news, we were in an inventory shortage, for both new and existing homes, well before the pandemic and COVID made it worse. It’s going to take a while for us to get back to a more balanced ‘normal’ even with an increase in new construction on the horizon.”

According to MoxiWorks data via their Home Sales Predictor, May will see 650,000 home sales, marking an 80% increase from last year. “650,000 home sales feels high when inventory is low, but it’s more about a listing shortage than an inventory shortage.” Says MoxiWorks CEO, York Bauer. “Homes are being transacted at such a high velocity that even if we have ‘low inventory’ it could be related to home sales that don’t get into the data around inventory because homes are being sold so quickly.”

The housing market’s catch-22

Of those who are planning to put their home on the market in 2-3 years, a quarter of respondents said they aren’t listing this year because they can’t find a new home within their price range, creating a catch-22 for inventory. Other reasons that homeowners aren’t planning to sell this year include: not sure where they want to move (23%); the current economic climate (22%); logistics of buying and selling at the same time (22%); and concerns about showing a home during the pandemic (20%). 

What it will take to move the needle

Nearly all potential sellers (91%) looking to sell in the next 2 to 3 years said that they would be more likely to list their home if they knew they could time buying and selling perfectly. Additionally, 37% of homeowners with plans to sell in the next 2 to 3 years said that if they knew they could make a lot of money on their home sale, they would be motivated to list sooner. And with the median home listing price currently up 18.7% over last year, many homeowners are likely to see a significant profit if they list now. Other factors that could prompt future sellers to list sooner include: more affordable homes on the market (33%); not having to handle the logistics of buying and selling at the same time (29%); not having to prepare the home for sale (27%); and if the health risks of COVID-19 were lower (24%). 

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