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Falling inventory: Slim pickings for frustrated buyers

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis  July 9, 2012 06:39 AM

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The plunge in housing inventory across the country is one of the biggest under reported stories out there right now, Calculated Risk opines.

The number of homes and condos on the market dropped more than 24 percent across the country over the past year, the respected economics blog notes, citing stats from the DeptofNumbers.

And the Boston area is no exception. Going directly to the source, here's a nifty chart that shows the local trend. Homes and condos for sale have fallen more than 19 percent since early July 2011.

The 23,865 listings on the market represent one of the lowest levels of housing inventory over the past six years. By comparison, back in July 2006, more than 44,000 homes and condos were for sale in the Boston area.

And if anything, the inventory crunch is only going to get worse, with the market headed into its traditional summer slumber.

Here's Calculated Risk:

On a seasonal basis, housing inventory usually bottoms in December and January and then starts to increase again through the summer. So inventory might still increase a little over the next month or two, but the forecasts for a "surge" in inventory this summer were incorrect. In fact inventory might have already peaked for the year.

As inventory dwindles, one obvious impact is on pricing. Asking prices in the Boston area have risen 7.7 percent since the start of the year, to a median asking price of $334,900, according to DeptofNumbers.

Of course, now everyone will go nuts on the comment board, yelping that I am not taking into acccont the buildup of shadow inventory of foreclosed homes yet to be sold.

But unlike Phoenix or Las Vegas, foreclosures have not been a driving factor in the Boston area or, with a few exceptions, across Massachusetts. And as far as your average homebuyer goes, there's not much hope competing some foreclosure special in need of lots of work with speculators armed with cash.

Until more sellers get into the game and builders get back to work, it's going to be slim pickings out there for our many frustrated buyers.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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