U.S. Home Inventory Falls For Fifth Straight Quarter

By Newsroom America Staff at 22 Sep 2016

(Newsroom America) -- Trulia has released a report that finds inventory falling for the fifth straight quarter, pushing home affordability further out of reach for more Americans.

Meanwhile, some markets across the country are bucking the trend by adding inventory.

Nationally, housing inventory continues to shrink. This summer, the number of homes on the market dropped for the fifth straight quarter, extending a slump and dropping 6.7% over the past year. The number of starter and trade-up homes on the market nationwide has dropped by 10.7% and 9.2%, respectively.

Meanwhile, premium home inventory dropped just 3.2% over the past year. The persistent and disproportional drop in starter and tradeup home inventory is pushing affordability further out of reach for homebuyers. Starter and trade-up homebuyers need to spend 1.7% and 0.9% more of their income than this time last year, whereas premium homebuyers only need to shell out 0.6% more of their income.

Falling inventory continues to take a toll on affordability. Starter homebuyers need to dedicate 38.5% of their monthly income to buy a starter home – a 1.7 point increase from last year. While not a hard ceiling, applying for a mortgage with a debt-to-income ratio of more than the 36% guideline used by lenders such as Fannie Mae will make the mortgage approval process more complicated for first-time buyers, especially when factoring in other debt like student loans, credit cards, and auto payments.

Most trade-up and premium home buyers, on the other hand, are still in the clear. Each would need to spend just 25.5% and 13.9% of their income to buy a home, respectively.

Although low inventory has been a persistent national trend over the past few years, relief is on the way for homebuyers in some markets. Of the 100 largest markets, 21 have experienced increases in inventory over the past year, with many showing double-digit gains. However, half of these markets are in just two states: California and Florida.

When looking at markets that have shown rising inventory for at least three consecutive quarters, four markets have hit an upward streak: Bakersfield, Calif., San Francisco, Sarasota, Fla., and West Palm Beach, Fla.

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