Buyers are being challenged by diminished inventory and mounting prices, especially in areas with crisis-level supply, according to the December Zillow® Real Estate Market Report. Inventory is down 10 percent from last year—a three-year trend—and, in the buzziest markets, as much as 40 percent.
Construction costs are exacerbating the issue, says Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow, who anticipates building will be concentrated in outlying suburbs this year.
“On the supply side, the market is starving for new homes, but it won’t be easy for builders struggling with high and rising land, labor and lumber costs,” Terrazas says. “Aging millennials and young families may be able to find more affordable new homes for sale this year, but they’ll most likely be in further-flung suburbs with more grueling commutes to urban job centers.”
Few homes are moving prices up—6.5 percent in the past year, to a median $206,300, according to the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI). Appreciation has been highest in San Jose, Calif., at 21.2 percent (a median $1,171,800), causing inventory to shrink 40.6 percent. In the largest metros:
Markedly, a mere 16.7 percent of analysts cited in Zillow’s 2017 Q4 Home Price Expectations Survey forecast home-building will pick up this year. In December, ground-breaking on new homes underwhelmed; builders, however, are confident in their prospects this year, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
Changes to the expected could come when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act goes into effect, says Terrazas.
“Tight inventory fueled by a tight labor market and low interest rates propelled home values to record heights in 2017, but the outlook is now much less certain,” Terrazas says. “Tax reform will put more money in the pocket of the typical buyer, but will limit some housing-specific deductions. Overall, this should increase demand for the most affordable homes and ease competition somewhat in the priciest market segments.”
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