Not Enough Homes For Sale?

Who would have thought that we could be entering the home selling season with a headline which says there are not enough homes for sale? After all, analysts had warned that the shadow inventory of homes held by banks would weigh down the markets for years to come. Where did these millions of homes go? Many were foreclosed upon. Others were sold by short sale rather than going through the foreclosure process as foreign and domestic investors bought millions of bargains. Also, many others were modified to help homeowners to remain in their homes as the economy has gotten stronger and provided more jobs for those who were unemployed. This stronger economy has meant that fewer home loans have moved into default in the past few years as well. On the other hand, there are still many homes waiting to be foreclosed upon.

How could we have a shortage of inventory at this juncture? Investor demand along with population growth and rising household formulation have all combined to remove excess inventory. Combine these factors with the fact that those who owe more than their homes are worth are reticent to sell. Even those who were foreclosed upon are starting to purchase again or need single family homes to rent. The question is not why is the inventory down, but will the lower inventory slow down the real estate market in the coming year?

You can’t have rising home sales with not enough homes for sale. We think that two factors will increase inventory in the coming year. Rising home prices will encourage more home owners to list their homes. And builders can create inventory by building more homes. Increased building activity is expected to help pump up the economy in the coming year. If real estate demand continues to rise, expect banks to accelerate the process to get rid of homes in their inventory. In other words, we are expecting the low inventory “problem” to be self-correcting during the year — unless new demand outstrips this additional supply.

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