The national housing inventory plummeted by 13.6 percent in January, the steepest year-over-year decrease in more than four years, according to new data from Realtor.com
. Last month’s loss of 164,000 listings dropped the housing supply to the lowest level since Realtor.com began tracking the data in 2012.
Complicating matters was the shortage of new listings. Realtor.com also reported the volume of newly listed properties was 10.6 percent lower from one year earlier. The supply shortage was especially acute for entry-level properties priced under $200,000—that sector posted a year-over-year tumble of 19 percent. The loss of mid-tier properties priced between $200,000 and $750,000 experienced a 12 percent year-over-year decline, while upper-tier properties priced at more than $750,000 declined by 5.9 percent year-over-year.
The major metro areas recording the largest declines in housing inventory were California’s San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara market (-37.3 percent), Arizona’s Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale corridor (-35.4 percent) and the San Diego-Carlsbad metro in California. (-34.0 percent). Only two of the 50 largest metros saw inventory increase year-over-year: Minnesota’s Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington region (+9.4 percent) and the San Antonio-New Braunfels metro in Texas (+8.4 percent).
"Homebuyers took advantage of low mortgage rates and stable listing prices to drive sales higher at the end of 2019, further depleting the already limited inventory of homes for sale. With fewer homes coming up for sale, we've hit another new low of for sale-listings in January," according to Danielle Hale, Realtor.com's chief economist. "This is a challenging sign for the large numbers of Millennial and Gen Z buyers coming into the housing market this homebuying season as it implies the potential for rising prices and fast-selling homes—a competitive market. In fact, markets such as San Jose in Northern California, which saw inventory down nearly 40 percent last month, are also seeing prices grow by 10 percent while homes are selling at a blistering pace of 51 days."