Fewer homes were available for sale in June than a year ago, online real estate company Zillow reported on Thursday.
A dwindling inventory of the lowest-priced homes — those attractive to first-time homebuyers —accounted for most of the decline, the report said. The supply of those homes declined in 28 of the 35 largest U.S. metros.
By comparison, inventory of the highest-priced homes fell in 10 of the nation’s largest cities. Overall, 6.5% fewer homes were listed for sale on Zillow last month than in June 2014.
If the inventory of homes for sale depletes much further, homebuying could come to “a screeching halt,” Zillow’s chief economist, Stan Humphries, said in a release.
The inability to find a home to buy exacerbates the already-difficult homebuying process, which includes saving for down payments and qualifying for mortgages in a tight credit market, Humphries noted.
And a slim stock of homes for sale is a catalyst for increasingly high rents, which rose 4.3% from year-ago levels. Low inventory also drives up for-sale home prices.
In fact, the Zillow report said home values nationwide rose last month by 0.3% from May and by 3.3% from June 2014. The median U.S. home price in June was $180,100 — another challenge for potential buyers, especially first-timers.