Skip Navigation


TRULIA: Starter Homebuyers Should Start House Hunting Now

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Trulia®, a home and neighborhood resource for homebuyers and renters, released the findings from the Trulia Inventory and Price Watch. This quarterly look at the supply of starter, trade-up and premium homes on the market nationally and in the 100 largest U.S. metros found that starter homebuyers should accelerate their house-hunting plans now as for-sale inventory increases and listing prices decrease in the fall and winter months.

Time of Year When Starter Inventory Peaks and Prices Bottom

Starter Homebuyers, Begin House Hunting and Go West
Starter homebuyers should ignore conventional wisdom about the spring home-buying season. Starter-home inventory peaks in October and actually rises 7% in fall months, compared to the spring. Regionally, the strongest season for starter homes in 70 of the top 100 housing markets is between October and December. That leads to listing prices that are about 4.8% and 3.1% lower in the winter and spring than in the summer, respectively.

Homebuyers in the West should especially pick up their house hunting efforts as seven of the top 10 metros have the largest inventory and price swings are in California, Colorado, Oregon and Arizona. San Jose leads the pack with a 42% seasonal difference, on average, between its fourth quarter peak and first quarter low point in the number of starter homes on the market. For discounts, Wichita, Kan., offers the biggest savings. Listing prices there are 18.6%, on average, from its first quarter low point to its second quarter peak.

Where and When Starter Homes Hit the Market

Metros with Largest Seasonal Difference, Inventory

Metros with Largest Seasonal Difference, Listing Prices

U.S. Metro

Seasonal Difference Between Non-Peak and Peak

Min (Max) Listing Count Quarter

U.S. Metro

Seasonal Difference Between Non-Peak and Peak

Min (Max) Listing Price Quarter

San Jose, CA


1 (4)

Wichita, KS


1 (2)

Colorado Springs, CO


2 (4)

Seattle, WA


1 (3)

Portland, OR


2 (4)

San Jose, CA


1 (3)

San Francisco, CA


1 (4)

Oakland, CA


1 (3)

Phoenix, AZ


3 (1)

Denver, CO


1 (3)

NOTE: Among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas. Full data set available for download here.

Starter Home Inventory Falls More than 20% in the Summer
The number of starter and trade-up homes on the market declined 20.4% and 12.5% respectively, from the same period a year ago. But for premium homebuyers, the inventory picture wasn’t as bleak—their segment declined 2.3% year-over-year. These drops follow the national trend, as inventory tumbled 9.1% year-over-year, marking the 10th straight quarter of inventory declines.    

Starter and Trade-Up Homes Become Even More Unaffordable
For homebuyers seeking affordable homes, premium homebuyers only needed to spend 14.2% of their income, which was just a 0.7 percentage-point year-over-year increase. Meanwhile starter homebuyers and trade-up homebuyers were again hit hard. Starter homebuyers needed to shell out 39.7% of their monthly income to buy a typical starter home – up from 31% in the first quarter of 2013– while trade-up homebuyers followed with 26% of their income needed to purchase a home in that segment.

2017 Q3 National Inventory and Price Watch

Housing Segment

2017 Q3 Inventory

Change, 2016 Q3 – 2017 Q3

Median List Price



% of Income Needed to Buy Median Price Home in Segment

% Change in Median List Price

Percentage Point Change in Share

% Change in Inventory

Additional Share of Income Needed to Buy a Home (Percentage-Point Change)







-2.5 pts


+2.3 pts







-0.5 pts


+1.2 pts







+3.0 pts


+0.7 pts

Among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas. Share is the percent of for-sale homes that fall into each segment, which is defined separately for each metro. Median price for each segment is the stock-weighted average of the median price of each segment in each metro. Some point change estimates may be slightly different than stated values because our differing procedure occurs before rounding. The full data set can be downloaded here.


“Starter homebuyers should begin looking now. The fall season provides a great opportunity for finding the right home and neighborhood thanks to a bump in homes for sale on the market, followed by lower winter prices.”

“Housing markets along the West Coast have long been plagued by tight inventory and worsening affordability. But it’s not completely hopeless for would-be homeowners. The seasonal swings in listings and prices in the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, Ore., and even Phoenix means buyers will likely find more homes for sale at a lower price in the fall and winter months.”  

About the Trulia Inventory and Price Watch
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. Based on the for-sale homes listed on Trulia, this report calculates housing inventory within each segment nationally and in the 100 largest U.S. metros, from July 1 to September 1, 2017. For the full report and methodology, see here.

About Trulia
Trulia is a vibrant home shopping marketplace, focused on giving homebuyers, sellers, and renters the information they need to make better decisions. On mobile and the Web, Trulia provides house hunters with insights and unique information about properties, neighborhoods, and real estate agents. Additionally, Trulia offers data and information about schools, crimes, commute times, and the real estate market.

Launched in 2005, Trulia is based in San Francisco and is owned and operated by Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z and ZG).

Trulia is a registered trademark of Trulia, LLC.

Debbie Baratz


Trulia Logo (PRNewsFoto/Trulia)