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Please put your house on the market!

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis January 17, 2013 05:48 AM

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If that sounds desperate, well then maybe it is. Right now sellers and listings are increasingly hard to find, both in the Boston area and right across the country as well.

And this dearth of inventory threatens to stall out the budding real estate market recovery.

Redfin takes on this issue in this new "Calling all Sellers!" blog post.

The issue is not just that inventory dropped like a rock in Boston and and other cities over 2012 - we all know that.

More ominously, the first two weeks of the year, typically a time when new homes start coming on the market, have been unusually quiet this year.

In fact, new Boston-area listings are down 16 percent so far this January compared to the first two weeks of 2012, which were already pretty anemic in terms of new inventory, according to Redfin.

And it goes on from there, with Atlanta listings down 42 percent and Las Vegas down 43 percent, with San Francisco leading the pack with a 47 percent plunge. Inventory is down in all 21 major metro markets Redfin surveyed, with all but one city posting double digit falls and most in the 20-40 percent range.

Some of this clearly has to do with home prices - they started to make a comeback in 2012, but many homeowners are still underwater and simply can't sell yet.

But I wonder if something else is going on here, especially among already established homeowners who typically are the source of new listings as they either decide to move up or downsize.

After a half-decade real estate market depression, it's an open question whether some homeowners who might ordinarily be looking to move up have simply given up on the idea. Some clearly have decided to stay in place, fixing up what they have, and are reluctant to take on a new and possibly larger mortgage in order to get more space.

Moreover, low inventory not only hurts buyers, but it also hurts sellers who want to buy a bigger and better home. If you can't find a new home you are happy with, what's the point of selling the one you already have?

OK sellers, where are you and why aren't you putting your homes on the market? Are you still underwater? Waiting for prices to go up? Or have you decided to make do with what you have and not trade up after all?

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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