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Buyers 'fight over scraps' in ever-pricier housing

  • The supply of homes for sale at the end of July was 9 percent lower compared with July of 2016, according to the National Association of Realtors.
  • After flattening slightly in May, price increases jumped again in June, now up 5.8 percent nationally compared with a year ago, according to the latest release from S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller.

Not only are home prices continuing to rise, but the gains are accelerating. Couple that with record-low supply of homes for sale, and you would think demand would fall off. So far, it has not. Bidding wars are to be expected with most offers, especially in larger metropolitan areas and their suburbs.

"It's a new normal in the housing market," wrote Cheryl Young, senior economist at Trulia, in a response to new price reports. "Ever rising prices being met by insatiable demand."

The supply of homes for sale at the end of July was 9 percent lower compared with July of 2016, according to the National Association of Realtors. Homes are selling faster and faster each month, especially those on the lower end of the market where supply is lowest and where demand from first-time buyers is very high. Builders are shifting somewhat to lower-priced products but really continue to concentrate on move-up homes, which is not helping the shortage.

New single-family homes priced between $200,000 and $250,000 were the fastest-growing segment for homebuilders in the second quarter of this year, up 33 percent annually, according to a study by Genworth Mortgage Insurance, but the volume was still relatively small, just 13,000 actual homes nationwide. That just goes to show how little builders have been operating at the entry level in the past few years.

"There's no indication that America's starving housing markets will be fed, as buyers fight over scraps," added Young.

After flattening slightly in May, price increases jumped again in June, now up 5.8 percent nationally compared with a year ago, according to the latest release from S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller. Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and Dallas saw the biggest gains at 13.4 percent, 8.2 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively.

"Price increases are supported by a tight housing market. Both the number of homes for sale and the number of days a house is on the market have declined for four to five years," wrote David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a release.

Higher prices, of course, weaken affordability, but other factors, like improved employment, rising wages and salaries, as well as continued low mortgage rates work together to juice demand and keep prices high.

"Given current economic conditions and the tight housing market, an immediate reversal in home price trends appears unlikely," added Blitzer.

WATCH: Existing home sales down 1.3% in July