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Average Starter-Home Buyer Needs More Income in 2017 as Inventory Dwindles

First-time homebuyers face worsening starter-home shortage heading into 2017 as starter-home inventory falls nationally by 12.1% year-over-year.  1600-3

The latest Trulia Inventory and Price Watch. found that the number of homes for the average first-time homebuyer saw its steepest year-over-year drop in three years, falling 12.1% since 2015. Moreover, these buyers will need to pay 1.9% more of their income on average to buy a starter-home in their local market.

Nationally, housing inventory fell for the sixth consecutive quarter, dropping 9.1% from a year ago. Across different housing segments, home buyers saw the biggest decreases in starter and trade-up home inventory. The number of starter homes and trade-up homes on the market dropped 12.1% and 12.9% from this time last year, respectively. Meanwhile, premium home inventory fell a more moderate 5.6%.

Declines in the affordability of starter homes continues to plague first-time home buyers. Today, the average starter-home buyer will need to spend 38.5% of their monthly income to buy a starter home – a 1.9 percentage point increase from last year. This decline in affordability is more than twice as much for trade-up homes (up 0.9 percentage points) and nearly four times the amount needed to buy a premium home (up 0.5 percentage points). Comparatively, buyers of trade-up homes and premium homes would each need to spend just 25.5% and 13.9% of their income to buy a home, respectively.

In many coastal housing markets, affordability has eroded significantly over the last year, especially in Tacoma, Wash. and Portland, Ore. But in Sacramento, Calif., Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Miami, starter home unaffordability continues to be a persistent problem. Among the 100 largest U.S. metros, these metros ranked in the top 10 annual declines in affordability for starter homes from 2012 to 2015 and remain in the top 10 for declines in affordability for starter homes from 2015 to 2016.

The Trulia Inventory and Price Watch offers buyers and sellers deeper insight into the change in supply and affordability of homes over the past year, within three different segments of the market: starter homes, trade-up homes, and premium homes.

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