Housing inventories are in crisis mode


After a brief bump in the fall of 2021, housing inventories have been declining for the past five months—and that’s making it harder than ever for buyers to afford a home.

Zillow reported that U.S. inventory sank to 729,000 home listings in February, a 25% drop from February 2021, and 48% lower than February 2020.

Overall, housing inventory last month was 11.9% lower than January 2022—but in some cities, the situation is worse than others. Zillow looked at the 50 largest metro areas and compared inventory levels from 2020 to where they were at the end of February. Four stood out as especially barren of available homes.

Raleigh, N.C. (-69.7%)

Hartford, Conn. (-63%)

Providence, R.I. (-61.8%)

Miami, Fla. (-61%)

Cities seeing the smallest decrease were San Francisco (-7.8%), San Jose (-17.9%), and Austin (-26.9%).

In many of those cities, the smaller inventory is resulting in much steeper price increases than the rest of the country. Raleigh saw prices increase 33.1% over the past year (and 2.6% in the past month). Austin is arguably the hottest real estate market, with increases of 45.4% in the past year.

The lack of homes should keep prices escalating for at least the next year, says Zillow.

“Annual home value growth is likely to continue accelerating through the spring, peaking at 22% in May, before gradually slowing through February 2023,” the company said in its February 2022 market report. “More than 6.4 million total existing homes are expected to sell in 2022.”

In real dollars, consider this: The typical U.S. home is now worth $331,533, according to Zillow. By the end of February 2023, it’s expected to be worth more than $400,000.