Buyers and sellers of all housing types have been affected by the shortage in the housing supply, but buyers and sellers of townhomes are likely to notice it the most. Townhomes tend to be hard to find and quick to sell, partly because this is a housing type that appeals to many kinds of buyers… including downsizing Empty Nesters (aka Baby Boomers) and people in changing life situations. Even many of today's young buyers are not interested in caring for a yard and all the other responsibilities that come with owning a house. Just like downsizing Baby Boomers, many would rather spend their time and money doing other things, including traveling.
In June of 2008, the year the housing bubble burst, all housing types were in ample supply. With months supply ranging from nearly 10 months for houses, more than 11 months for townhomes and 13 months for condos it was a strong buyer's market… well above the 5-6 months supply considered to be a balanced market.
Houses are often thought to be the housing type in highest demand, and the months supply clearly reflected that houses were in shortest supply relative to demand in 2008-2009. In 2010-2011 townhouses caught up and surpassed demand for houses while condos were still languishing behind.
By 2012-2013-2014 townhouses became the housing type in shortest supply relative to demand… and even condos have a shorter supply than houses. In June 2008 there was a 13.0 months supply of condos… in June 2014 there is only a 3.6 months supply of condos… and at 3.1 months, townhouses are in shortest supply.
I think one reason is many Baby Boomers put off moving when the market was low but are now selling their houses and looking for townhouses as their next transition step… especially one-level townhomes, which are becoming a very hot commodity!
This makes downsizing sellers reluctant to sell their houses until they find a townhouse or condo… and upsizing sellers transitioning from a townhouse to a house hesitant to sell for fear their townhouse will sell too quickly for them to find their next home. I have had more 'pre-arranged' home sales this year than ever before!