The inventory of single family homes in the Sullivan County MLS hit another benchmark this morning, topping 1,200 houses for the first time. In other good news for buyers, the average and median asking prices are continuing to move down (but ever so slightly), with the median asking price drifting downward to $240,000 (from $244,400 just a week ago) and the average asking price dropping below $300,000 (to $299,884). While the drop in the average and median is modest, and brings asking prices back to about the level we say in May, it does indicate that asking prices are trending in a downward rather than upward direction. And that’s good, because it indicates that seller sentiment is finally beginning to adjust to the realities of a slower real estate market.
However, buyers shouldn’t necesarily break out the champagne and rejoice at the increase in inventory. A lot of that inventory is, to put it nicely, not very appealing. (to put it not so nicely, a lot is the real estate equivilent of something you might put on your garden to make it grow.) There are a lot of houses, though, that aren’t real estate kaka, but have appeal more to the primary home rather than second home market — vinyl-sided bi-levels, raised ranches and ranches on smaller pieces of property account for almost half of those 1,200 houses.
For second home buyers looking for that pristine and private mountain or lake getaway, the inventory of houses is still quite small. I keep track of houses I think have appeal to second home buyers, and that inventory right now is about 300 houses — and that’s across a wide range of prices, styles and settings. For example, right now I’m working with a few clients looking for something small, private and preferably cute, in the $250,000 range, and I’m working with an inventory subset of less than two dozen houses. For a buyer in the $500,000 range looking for a nicely renovated farmhouse, there are 3 or 4 choices. Granted, that’s up from the 1 or 2 I might have had available to show a year ago, but its not a huge universe of properties.