Here's a different take on the shortage of for-sale inventory in the housing market from MarketWatch:
Welcome to 2018, where realtors are the new telemarketers: If you’re like me, you get a couple of calls a week, not looking to sell you a house, but looking for houses to sell. That’s because the real estate market is (exaggerating slightly) as bare of inventory as the shelves of a former Soviet Union grocery store, to hear builders and realtors tell it.
Good for you, if you’re one of the relatively few people who want to sell a house right now. Short supply means higher prices even without white-hot demand. But it’s a bad thing for the economy, and illustrates a big — maybe the biggest — kitchen-table budget reason why the Federal Reserve would be wise to be careful and slow about raising interest rates more.
The new watchword is “rate lock” — the idea that people who would move up to a bigger house might tolerate a higher price, but balk at a higher interest rate. Throw in higher property taxes that come with a bigger house, and you have three financial barriers to people moving up, instead of the usual two. Add the wage stagnation of the last year, driven by an uptick in inflation traceable to higher oil prices, and you see why new-home sales have slowed in the last few months and why existing-home sales fallen 1.5% year-to-date.