In the first quarter of 2018, the starting point of the Housing Trends Report (HTR), only 16% of buyers expected easier availability for a home in the months ahead. The share soared to 36% by the final quarter of 2020 (during the COVID-19 pandemic), but then went on to decline to 33% and 28%, respectively, in the first two quarters of 2021. Now, 64% expect that finding the right home will be harder or not change much, up from 54% in the last quarter of 2020. This shift in buyers’ perceptions on inventory correctly reflects the scarcity of homes available on the market in the first half of 2021.
Nonetheless, recent data from Realtor.com suggest the inventory crunch may be starting to ease up, as the inventory of unsold homes rose 3.3% to 1.25 million from May to June 2021.
Expectations that housing availability will ease up declined in all four regions of the country between the final quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2021. In the Northeast, the share of buyers expecting the house search to get easier dropped from 44% to 33%; in the Midwest, from 23% to 19%; in the South, from 32% to 29%; and in the West, from 40% to 25%.
Another way to assess buyers’ perceptions on inventory is to ask whether they are seeing more/fewer/about the same number of homes (that they like and can afford) available on the market. Results to this question further confirm a decline in buyer’s perceptions on housing availability. In the final quarter of 2020, 41% of buyers reported seeing more homes for-sale, but the share has dropped to 38% and 33%, respectively, in the first two quarters of 2021.
In contrast, after hitting a series-low of 50% in the final quarter of 2020, the share of buyers seeing fewer/same number of homes on the market has risen for two consecutive quarters and now stands at 63%.
Tracking earlier results, the share of buyers seeing more homes for-sale declined in all regions between the final quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2021: from 48% to 43% in the Northeast; 30% to 28% in the Midwest; 37% to 33% in the South; and 42% to 27% in the West.
* All national and regional series in the HTR were seasonally adjusted for the first time in the second quarter of 2021. As a result, all data prior to this quarter have changed, as they now reflect the seasonal adjustments. Moving forward, non-seasonally adjusted data will no longer be published.
** The Housing Trends Report (HTR) is a research product created by the NAHB Economics team with the goal of measuring prospective home buyers’ perceptions about the availability and affordability of homes for-sale in their markets. The HTR is produced quarterly to track changes in buyers’ perceptions over time. All data are derived from national polls of representative samples of American adults conducted for NAHB by Morning Consult. Results are seasonally adjusted. A description of the poll’s methodology and sample characteristics can be found here This is the third in a series of six posts highlighting results for the second quarter of 2021. See previous posts on plans to buy and new vs. existing preference.