As of today, March 2nd, the inventory of single family homes in the Sullivan County MLS was 986. This is the first time inventory has dropped below 1,000 homes since April, 2006, and amrks a 24% drops in available homes for sale since the peak of 1,292 reached last August. Inventory does typically drop through the winter, with owners often deciding to take their houses off the market because they don’t want to keep them plowed out and heated for the occasional showing. Current inventory is tracking right about even with 2006 levels.
What’s curious, though, is that inventory isn’t higher than 2006, given that many people believe we’ve shifted into a buyers’ market. A buyers’ market is pretty much defined as rising inventory combined with lower demand leading to lower prices. That’s certainly what’s happening in overbuilt or high-foreclosure markets like Florida and Arizona. (To put the numbers in pespective, in one zip code in Florida, 32169, the beachside area of New Smyrna Beach, there are 1,274 single family properties – condos and homes – on the market. I use New Smyrna as an example, because that’s where I had a condo that was on the market for 18 months before finding a buyer.)
But not here. There are a number of sellers who have just pulled their houses off the market, at least for the time being. And this week when I called to ask about the status of a few houses I was interested in showing, I got the response that the owners decided to rent it out and may put it back on the market when things improve.
April and May are going to be very telling. I’ve been keeping records since 2001, and inventory has bottomed out every year in late March, and then started climbing again in April and May. Its going to be interesting to see if that same inventory trend holds this year, and at what prices sellers put their houses on the market for.