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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Housing Inventory: A Local Observation

by Calculated Risk on 12/12/2009 01:04:00 PM

"For Sale" signs are sprouting up all over my neighborhood again. In fact it is hard to find a block without one or two homes for sale. This is a very high number, especially for December.

My neighborhood may be unusual (fairly high priced SoCal area), but I suspect many homeowners have heard about an "improving market" and are testing the water.

This is one of the key categories of "shadow inventory" that we've discussed before:

  • Homeowners waiting for a better market. This is the what I suspect has driven the surge in inventory in my neighborhood.

  • REOs. These are bank owned properties that have not been put on the market yet. Most evidence suggests this isn't a huge number right now.

  • Foreclosures in process. The delinquency rate is at a record level, however the number of future foreclosures depends somewhat on the success of the modification programs. This isn't just "HAMP"; most lenders have their own modification programs that have been much more successful than HAMP. According the JPMorgan presentation this week, they've offered about 200,000 HAMP modification to borrowers, another 160,000 from Chase (internal), and over 200,000 with the GSEs.

    Note: Homes in the foreclosure process listed in the MLS as "short sales" are not shadow inventory.

  • New high rise condos. These properties are not included in the new home inventory report from the Census Bureau, and do not show up anywhere unless they are listed.

    Inventory is usually the best metric to follow for the housing market - and according to recent releases inventory is declining for both new and existing homes - however shadow inventory clouds this picture.