Something is wrong with the housing market, and it's the opposite problem of the most recent housing crisis.
Instead of too many people buying homes they can't afford, there simply aren't enough homes available for people who want them. This is causing prices to go up and keeping would-be new homebuyers out of the market.
Michelle Meyer, US economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, laid out the problem in one succinct chart.
"The housing market remains tight — this is evident in the number of months of supply or the number of days that homes are on the market for sale," Meyer wrote in a note to clients. "The limited supply of homes has kept upward pressure on home prices and rents, stretching affordability and making it more challenging to achieve homeownership."
"A publicly released survey conducted by our own lending group — Bank of America Homebuyer Insights Report — shows these dynamics," Meyer continued. "The survey found that although more first-time buyers aspire to buy a home in the highly priced markets, a greater percentage report a delay given affordability concerns."
In fact, based on the survey, three of the six housing markets BAML measured are already above their precrisis home-price highs (San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston are above, while Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C., have not quite gotten there).
(Bank of America Merrill Lynch)
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