January Housing Inventory Remains Tight, Limiting Buyers’ Options

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The number of available homes has decreased, year-over-year, for 12 months in a row

February 24, 2016

When demand for something begins to outweigh supply by a large enough margin, it typically doesn’t bring out the best in human nature. Just look back to the mid-nineties for proof, as grown adults turned toy store aisles into World War I trenches as they fought over Tickle Me Elmo dolls. We haven’t gotten to that point yet when it comes to the housing market, but as the supply of available homes in the U.S. continues to dwindle, the competition for those homes is increasing.

In January, the supply of homes available for sale in the U.S. was 8.6 percent below the level from a year ago, according to Zillow. Additionally, the seasonally adjusted number of homes for sale has fallen year-over-year in each of the past 12 months. This trend could have big impacts on the spring selling season.

All but four of the 35 largest metro markets in the country saw inventory fall year-over-year in January with 16 of those markets posting drops of 10 percent or more. Many markets in the East favor buyers, while the West’s markets tend to favor sellers.

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