Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Existing Home Inventory continues to decline year-over-year in September

by Bill McBride on 9/28/2011 10:24:00 AM

In June, Tom Lawler posted on how the NAR estimates existing home inventory. The NAR does NOT aggregate data from the local boards (see Tom's post for how the NAR estimates inventory).

In a few months the NAR will revise down their estimates fpr inventory and sales of existing homes for the last few years. Also the NAR methodology for estimating sales and inventory will be changed.

I think the HousingTracker / DeptofNumbers data that Tom mentioned provides a timely estimate of changes in inventory. Ben at is tracking the aggregate monthly inventory for 54 metro areas.

NAR vs. Existing Home InventoryClick on graph for larger image in graph gallery.

This graph shows the NAR estimate of existing home inventory through August (left axis) and the HousingTracker data for the 54 metro areas through September. The HousingTracker data shows a steeper decline in inventory over the last few years (as mentioned above, the NAR will probably revise down their inventory estimates this fall). YoY Home InventoryThe second graph shows the year-over-year change in inventory for both the NAR and HousingTracker.

HousingTracker reported that the September listings - for the 54 metro areas - declined 16.7% from last year.

Of course there is a large percentage of distressed inventory, and various categories of "shadow inventory" too. But the decline in listed or "visible" inventory is a key story in 2011 - and listed inventory for September is probably down to the lowest level since September 2005.

Note: inventory surged in the late 2005 and early 2006 - a key sign that the housing bubble was bursting.