The U.S. housing market is 3.8 million single-family homes short of what is needed to meet the country’s demand, according to a new analysis by mortgage-finance company Freddie Mac.

The estimate represents a 52% rise in the nation’s home shortage compared with 2018, the first time Freddie Mac quantified the shortfall.

The figures underscore the severity of the housing deficit, which is a major factor fueling the current red-hot housing market. The shortage is especially acute for entry-level homes, which makes it more expensive for first-time home buyers to enter the market, said Sam Khater, chief economist at Freddie Mac.

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“We should have almost four million more housing units if we had kept up with demand the last few years,” Mr. Khater said. “This is what you get when you underbuild for 10 years.”

Freddie Mac reached its shortage figure by…

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