If you’ve been searching for a first house and finding it more difficult this past year, you’re not alone. There has been a noticeable decrease in the number of starter homes (aka homes in the $250,000 range) available, according to Realtor.com. The market for these under-2,000-square-foot properties is typically filled with first-time buyers, but right now there are more people looking to move than there are houses. There are also half the number of new builds that are considered starter homes than there were in 2017.

Why the sudden inventory drop? There’s no one reason. The baby boomer generation has reached retirement age, and those people are looking to downsize their living space. City dwellers who fled to the suburbs have also snatched up a number of listings. The other factor is second- or third-time buyers who have upgraded their square footage but held onto their first house to rent out for extra income, whether that’s as a landlord or on Airbnb. 

While we’re not seeing much change in the housing market just yet, all hope is not lost. Here are a few updates you can make to your current rental to make it feel more like home until things level out.

Contact-Paper Cabinets

Unhappy with your kitchen’s drab ‘80s cabinetry? Using contact paper and a hair dryer (no, really), one renter transformed her space into a periwinkle paradise. Just peel it off when you move out.

Vertical Storage

Living in a major metropolitan area comes with sacrifices, like trading closets for higher ceilings. Our associate style editor combated the lack of storage in her place by creating an expansive (and cheap) open wardrobe in the apartment’s hallway. 

DIY Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper

Landlord-friendly, fully customizable wallpaper that’s as easy as mixing glue and water will add life to those blank rental walls. (And you’re not beholden to just what’s for sale online.)

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