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U.S. Housing Supply Short 7.2M Homes

Despite the recent uptick of new construction, single-family home construction is still lagging behind the need, a new study found.

NEW YORK – While the number of homes for sale has been recovering from pandemic-era lows thanks to a surge of new construction, a new analysis found that the market is still missing up to 7.2 million homes, the result of more than a decade of underbuilding relative to population growth.

"The U.S. is in a long-term housing shortage with the construction of new homes failing to keep pace with a growing population. While a recent uptick in new construction has the potential to alleviate the historically low level of homes for sale on the market today, it's going to take some time to close the gap," said Danielle Hale, chief economist at "That said, the elevated level of both single- and multi-family construction coming to market this year is likely to put downward pressure on rent prices in many markets, welcome news for renters. It also means that the higher than usual share of new homes for sale is likely to continue, giving home shoppers willing to consider new homes more options."

Household formation outpaces single-family home construction, despite uptick

In 2023, an additional 1.7 million households formed, resulting in a total of 17.2 million new households between 2012 and 2023. Homebuilders started construction on 947,200 single-family homes and 472,700 multi-family homes in 2023, bringing the 2012 to 2023 overall housing starts total to 14.7 million homes, roughly 10 million of which were single-family. The gap between single-family housing starts and household formations grew from 6.5 million at the end of 2022 to 7.2 million at the end of 2023 as household formations remained steady and single-family home construction waned. Though the gap widened, it was the third smallest single-year gap between households and housing starts since 2016.

As household formations outpaced housing starts in 2023, the overall gap between household formations and total housing starts, including single- and multi-family homes, widened from 2.3 million housing units between 2012 and 2022 to 2.5 million units at the end of 2023.

Affordable new for-sale inventory starts to recover, sunbelt metros grow faster

In 2022, just 38% of new homes were sold for less than$400,000, however, in 2023, this share increased to 43%, indicating a shift toward more affordability in the new construction space. Many builders offered price cuts and other incentives in 2023 to prompt home sales and also focused on smaller units, which likely led to this progress in affordability.

At the metro-level, some areas have seen outsized household growth relative to permitting activity. Looking at just the gap between single-family permits and household formations reveals that permitting activity has lagged household growth in 73 of the top 100 metros in the U.S. The metros with the largest single-family gap include San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas; Austin-Round Rock, Texas; and Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla. The top 10 list of metros by size of gap relative to population includes three Texas metros, five Florida metros, and two Washington metros. Many of these areas have seen significant population growth because of their affordable cost of living and overall desirability.

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