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Homebuilders are facing another shortage: housing lots

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In additing to a shortage of supplies and labor, there's now a shortage of lots for home builders. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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We learned this week that home construction fell 0.7% in October, according to the Commerce Department. That’s thanks in part to shortages of home building supplies and labor. And, there’s something else in short supply: housing lots.

Back in September, a survey of home builders found that over three quarters of them said supply of available lots was low.

“And it indicates a real severe problem finding lots to build on,” said Paul Emrath with the National Association of Home Builders, which did the survey.

Part of the issue, Emrath said, is that getting permits and approval for new lots can take a while. The pandemic has slowed that down even more. 

Emrath said that’s because a lot of people are involved in developing new lots.

“You know when you grade them, and install the infrastructure, you may have problems finding labor, just like everywhere else,” he said.

The lot shortage is a particular problem for building single-family homes, said Susan Wachter, a real estate professor at the Wharton School.

“Single-family is land-intensive,” she said, adding that single-family homes have been in high demand during the pandemic.

But the Commerce Department said single-family home construction fell nearly 4% percent in October.

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