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Why Today’s Housing Inventory Shows a Crash Isn’t on the Horizon

The memory of the housing crash in 2008 still looms large for many, even those who weren’t homeowners at the time. It’s natural to be concerned about the possibility of history repeating itself, but the good news is that the housing market today is fundamentally different from what it was in 2008. One key reason for this difference lies in the state of housing inventory, which plays a pivotal role in shaping the real estate landscape.

The Housing Market Then vs. Now

Back in 2008, one of the primary factors contributing to the housing crash was an oversupply of homes on the market. This oversupply led to a steep decline in home prices as supply far outstripped demand. Homeowners found themselves unable to sell their properties, and a wave of foreclosures ensued, exacerbating the crisis.

The Current Housing Market Landscape

Fast forward to today, and the situation is remarkably different. The housing market is not characterized by an oversupply of homes; instead, it’s dealing with the opposite problem—an undersupply. This crucial distinction is a significant reason why a repeat of the 2008 housing crisis is unlikely.

Let’s take a closer look at the three main sources of housing supply:

  1. Homeowners Deciding to Sell: While some homeowners may be hesitant to sell their homes due to concerns about finding a new property in a competitive market, many are choosing to list their homes because of the favorable selling conditions, including rising prices.
  2. Newly Built Homes: The construction of new homes is increasing, but it still lags behind the level of demand. Builders are grappling with challenges such as labor shortages and supply chain disruptions. This means that new construction is not flooding the market with excess inventory.
  3. Distressed Properties: Unlike in 2008 when foreclosures and short sales were prevalent, the current housing market has seen a significant decline in distressed properties. This is a testament to the stricter lending standards in place today and the government’s efforts to provide foreclosure relief during the pandemic.
 If you look at the latest data above (shown in green), compared to 2008 (shown in red), there’s only about a third of that available inventory today.

Why a Housing Crash Isn’t Imminent

The critical takeaway from the current housing inventory situation is that there simply aren’t enough homes available for sale to trigger a housing crash. For a market to crash, there must be an overwhelming surplus of homes on the market, which is not the case today.

While some may express concerns about a potential housing bubble, it’s essential to differentiate between a bubble and a crash. Bubbles are characterized by rapid price increases driven by speculation and irrational exuberance, whereas crashes result from a severe oversupply of homes and a subsequent collapse in prices.

The graph above shows the number of new houses built over the last 52 years:

In summary, the data and the current housing inventory trends do not support the notion of a housing crash akin to 2008. The undersupply of homes, coupled with strong demand, suggests that the housing market remains stable and resilient. As always, it’s wise to stay informed and work with a knowledgeable real estate professional to make sound decisions in the ever-evolving real estate landscape.

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