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Monday, October 10, 2011

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

by Calculated Risk on 10/10/2011 10:51:00 AM

I've been using inventory numbers from HousingTracker / DeptofNumbers to track changes in inventory. Tom Lawler mentioned this back in June (Tom also discussed how the NAR estimates existing home inventory - they don't aggregate data from local boards!)

A few key points:
• In a few months, the NAR is expect to release revisions for their existing home sales and inventory numbers for the last few years. The sales revisions will be down (the NAR has pre-announced this), and the inventory is expected to be revised down too. From the NAR last month: "Publication of the revisions is expected in several months, and we will provide a notice several weeks in advance of the publication date. ... Although there will be a downward revision to sales volume, there will be no notable change to previous characterizations of the market in terms of sales trends, monthly percentage changes, etc."

• Using the for monthly inventory (54 metro areas), it appears inventory will be back to late 2005 / early 2006 levels this month. Unfortunately the deptofnumbers only started tracking inventory in April 2006.

• Existing home inventory surged in the 2nd half of 2005 and that was a key indicator that the housing bubble was about the burst (I was able to call the top in activity mid-2005, and predict prices would start to decline in 2006).

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

This graph shows the NAR estimate of existing home inventory through August (left axis) and the HousingTracker data for the 54 metro areas through early October. 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 in a few months). YoY Home InventoryThe second graph shows the year-over-year change in inventory for both the NAR and HousingTracker.

HousingTracker reported that the early October listings - for the 54 metro areas - declined 16.4% from last year. Inventory was down 16.7% year-over-year in September.

This is just "visible inventory" (inventory listed for sales). 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 October is probably down to the lowest level since October 2005.