Photographer: Michel Fortier/Bloomberg

Sunshine State Offers Ray of Hope for U.S. House Hunters Squeezed by Low Supply

Florida was home to half of the top 10 communities with rising home inventory

U.S. house hunters frustrated by a shortage of listings should consider the Sunshine State.

While overall U.S. home inventory continued to decline in July on a year-over-year basis, a fifth of the nation's 100 largest markets saw increases in supply, according to a report Wednesday from real estate search engine Trulia. Half of the top 10 gainers were communities in Florida.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers and Miami led the country with advances of 37 percent and 33 percent, respectively. Two other markets in the greater Miami area – West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale – saw increases, at 18 percent and 16 percent. 

Tight inventory, combined with the struggles to save for a down payment and build credit to meet strict standards, has prevented prospective home buyers from making a purchase, even as mortgage rates hover near historic lows.

Overall inventory is down by more than 8 percent since the third quarter of 2014, and has been on the decline over the past several years in many of the largest markets, according to the data compiled by Trulia.

But recent double-digit gains in supply in certain regions offer a glimmer of relief for would-be buyers, and perhaps the latest sign of recovery in U.S. housing since the market bottomed out in 2012.

"Sustained price increases over the past several years are finally lifting up underwater homeowners to a point where they are financially comfortable with selling their home," said Trulia chief economist Ralph McLaughlin. "In addition, we’ve also seen a large increase in premium inventory in several markets, such as Miami and San Francisco."

San Francisco housing stock rose 19 percent over the past year, ranking seventh in inventory growth among the 100 markets tracked by Trulia.

Florida was one of the hardest-hit states in the housing crash, but home prices there have rebounded more than 40 percent since  2012. While 14 percent of mortgaged Florida homeowners still owed more than their properties were worth in the second quarter of this year, that share is down from over 50 percent in 2010, according to data from real-estate information provider CoreLogic.