If you follow real estate, you’ve heard a lot about inventory lately. That’s because, inventory – which refers to the number of homes available for sale – plays a big role in how much house the typical buyer can afford. When there are more homes for sale than there are interested buyers, home prices fall. These days, there are a lower-than-usual number of homes available to buy in many markets, which is why prices have continued to rise across the country. Of course, one good way to boost inventory is to build new homes. New home construction produces more choices for buyers and more competition among sellers, which helps balance the market. For this reason, the National Association of Home Builders regularly surveys builders to get a feel for whether they are optimistic about the market and likely to build more homes. The NAHB’s Housing Market Index scores builders answers on a scale where any number above 50 indicates more builders feel conditions are good than poor. In February, the index fell two points but remains in positive territory at 65. Granger MacDonald, NAHB’s chairman, says builders are generally optimistic. “While builders remain optimistic, we are seeing the numbers settling back into a normal range,” MacDonald said. Regionally, the Northeast and South were down, while the Midwest rose one point and the West was unchanged at 79. More here.
If you’ve followed the housing market at all this year, you’ve likely heard something about inventory. Inventory refers to the number of homes available for sale. This year, it’s been lower than usual. And, when for-sale inventory is low and buyer demand is high – as it’s been this year – prices rise and sellers hold most of the negotiating power. In many markets, that has been the story this year. However, according to a new analysis from Trulia, whether or not low inventory will affect a buyer’s home search depends on where that buyer is looking and what kind of home they’re looking to buy. For example, starter homes had the largest drop in inventory last year, falling 10.7 percent. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the number of high-end homes for sale only fell 3.7 percent. Naturally, that means a first-time buyer looking for an affordable home may have fewer homes to choose from than a luxury home buyer. However, it also depends on where you live. According to Trulia’s analysis, markets in the Southwest and Southeast have generally been adding enough homes for sale to keep up with buyer demand. In fact, Trulia’s research shows double-digit increases in the number of homes for sale in some markets, especially in states like Florida and California. That could be an indication that we’ll see inventory begin to improve in more markets next year. More here.