Inventory Making Slow, Steady Comeback After Years of Annual Declines

Inventory Making Slow, Steady Comeback After Years of Annual Declines

The FINANCIAL -- The number of homes available for sale nationwide is currently higher than at any other point this year, according to the latest Inventory and Price Watch Report from Trulia, a home and neighborhood site for homebuyers and renters. While inventory remains lower than it was a year ago (down 2.5 percent nationally), the number of homes for sale declined in Q3 at its slowest annual pace since 2015 and has actually climbed in a number of notable markets.

Falling inventory and red-hot demand has helped push housing costs up substantially over the past few years – which, when coupled with slow wage growth, has meant affordability has suffered, especially in some of the country's fastest-growing markets. But that is beginning to change: Some of the largest annual inventory gains were in the nation's least affordable markets, including San Jose (66.9 percent), Salt Lake City (45.0 percent) and Seattle (44.3 percent).

Modest Relief for Starter Home Inventory

Starter homes continue to make up the smallest share of available inventory, however the share of both starter and trade-up homes has grown since this time last year, up 0.4 and 0.9 percentage points respectively. Premium homes made up 50.0 percent of available listings, down 1.2 percentage points from the same period last year.

Growth in Inventory-Starved Areas

Over the past quarter, some of the most expensive metros have started to see the biggest increases in inventory. Six of the 10 metros with the largest annual inventory increases are in California including, San Jose (66.9 percent), San Diego (37.7 percent), Ventura County (31.6 percent), Oakland (25.9 percent), Bakersfield (21.4 percent) and Orange County (20.7 percent).

Affordability Continues to Plague Buyers

While buyers may start to see signs of relief from an inventory perspective, affordability continues to be an issue across all home segments. Nationwide, starter home buyers should expect to pay 25.6 percent of their income toward a mortgage (up 3.3 percentage points from 22.3 percent a year ago), compared to 24.4 percent for trade-up buyers (up 2.3 percentage points) and just 21 percent for premium buyers (up 1.3 percentage points). In an extreme example of income not keeping up with home values, in San Jose, the income required to purchase a starter home is 109.9 percent - completely out of reach for most starter home buyers.