Homebuyer Blues: High Prices, Low Inventory

Anxious couple listening to their real estate agent

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More than half—52%—of prospective home buyers feel “sad” and “anxious” over rising prices and low housing inventories, according to a new nationwide housing survey from Mphasis Digital Risk, an origination, risk compliance, and technology services firm covering residential real estate. Researchers surveyed more than 2,100 prospective home buyers.

Fifty-three percent of would-be home buyers said they feel “stuck” in their current home because purchasing a home is too expensive. More than a quarter said they are concerned they’ll have to settle for less than an ideal home.

“The economy is bouncing back, and interest rates are near all-time lows, but home buyers are finding that low inventories and high prices are leaving them with few choices,” said Jeff Taylor, co-founder and managing director of Mphasis Digital Risk. “That takes a toll on people, and 16 months after the start of the pandemic, people are emotionally drained.”

There has not been enough attention paid to the “human cost of home price inflation,” Taylor added. “This is an ongoing issue that could affect Americans for years to come, as there continues to be an imbalance of supply and demand.”

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that the median existing-home sales price was $359,900 in July—18% higher than a year ago. Eighty-nine percent of homes sold in July were on the market for less than a month as low inventories and quick sales continue.

With high home prices and inventories so lean, nearly 50% of prospective buyers said they are more willing to consider a “fixer-upper,” high-maintenance home. About one in five buyers said they’d consider low-cost alternative housing, like a 3D-printed prefab house, modular home, or tiny home.