"Social housing" companies are the "picks and shovels" of the gold rush in housing, said CNBC's Jim Cramer, and investors are making big bets on these ancillary real estate plays.
Insiders of the housing market say buyers are focused on shortage of housing and getting the best value, Cramer said. With only 1 million homes expected to be built this year, compared to the 2 million Cramer expects would satisfy the market, this shortage is making these housing plays very attractive.
"We don't have enough, so anyone is playing anything housing. Give me a housing play, I'll buy it!" he said on "Squawk on the Street."
"These are the price-discoverers for people looking for apartments, for everything," Cramer said. "Houses are so hard to value right now. Houses are changing in price regularly, as we saw from Case-Shiller. How do I find out how I'm overpaying? Trulia. Zillow."
He added that many real estate brokers are virtually forced to use these services—and others like Realogy—to sell homes.
"There is a part of the economy that is on fire. It is autos and housing. It's just a feel-good story that's working," he said.