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April 19, 2014

Buyer Demand Soars, But Where Are the Houses?

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Buyer Demand Soars, But Where Are the Houses?

Buyer demand is rapidly rising, but the housing market is realizing they may not have the inventory to meet it. 

“The housing turnaround seems to have caught almost everyone in the business by surprise,” The New York Times reports. “As desirable as the long-awaited improvement may be, the unusually low level of homes for sale is creating widespread problems for buyers and sellers alike, leading to bidding wars and bubble-like price jumps in places that not long ago were suffering from major declines.”

After years of not building, homebuilders are scrambling to ramp up production to meet demand, but they’re facing delays from the availability of lots, scarcity of qualified labor, and obtaining permits. 

Meanwhile, investors have snagged foreclosures and short sales, limiting the availability of those on the market as well.

In addition, more home owners — once underwater — are seeing the return of equity again for the first time in years, but still may be reluctant to sell as they wait for home prices to rise even more. Or, they might be wary of being displaced themselves if they sell due to the sudden buying frenzy, The New York Times notes. 

“You see a home go for sale and within a couple days there are three, four, six offers,” says home buyer Carrie Miskawi, who has been looking for a new home for the last six months.

Sacramento real estate agent Tom Phillips says he’s even resorted to knocking on doors of homes to see if the owners might consider selling to one of his clients.

The number of homes for sale is at its lowest level since 1999, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. But with mortgage rates still low and home prices off their peak, buyers are viewing it as an opportunity to jump in. 

Source: “Sudden Rise in Home Demand Takes Builders by Surprise,” The New York Times (March 20, 2013)

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