The buzz this past week in the market and in the office was of the extremely low inventory level of property for sale and in turn how this is effecting buyer engagement in the New Year. In stark contrast though there was lots of buyer activity this past weekend. Plenty of buyers were out at open houses, showings were plentiful for what inventory there is and from all reports buyers were excited and and motivated. The challenge for agents and buyers alike is to keep engaged in the process as we wait for the inventory level to increase.
MLSPIN shows 94 condos on the market for sale in the South End on January 13. Last year at this time there were 102. In comparison, there were 133 condos for sale in January 2010 and 134 condos for sale in January 2009 in the South End.
For context the historically highest level of inventory we have seen in the South End was 268 condos for sale in May 2009, the height of the Spring selling season, and the historically lowest level of inventory is now. Today’s inventory level is approximately 1/3rd the inventory of May 2009. Unbelievable!
What has created this low inventory level? In the last 30 days we saw 16 properties expire out of MLSPIN. 32 went under agreement and in the same 30 day period 35 sold. This sustained level of activity created a 46% decrease in inventory in the last 90 days! From 173 condos for sale in mid October to 94 today. Currently there is just 2.3 months supply of inventory in the South End with similar conditions in other neighborhoods. There is 4.6 months of available inventory in the Back Bay, 3.2 months in Beacon Hill, and 3.3 months in both Charlestown and South Boston. A normal market, at least nationally, balanced between a buyers and sellers market, is when between 6-8 months supply of inventory for sale exists.
This low inventory can usually be explained by the regularly lower inventory levels that are seen at the beginning of the year, and that is surely part of the answer, but I think there is more to it. There are many sellers who just aren’t putting their properties on the market because they see a new normal for price appreciation. On the other hand for those sellers who can see the opportunity in this rather unique historical perfect storm with lack of inventory and high demand for reasonably priced properties, there has been no better time in the last several years then now to market a property for sale. There is less inventory thus less competition, and demand is exaggerated by this lack of inventory. Interest rates are at an all time low too!
I am not playing the role of realtor cheerleader here, I am just relaying the facts. Although I may be an optimist I am a pragmatic optimist. Facts are facts and they all point to a market situation which is just begging for inventory. I will keep you posted week by week as we see how the Spring Market of 2012 evolves. It is sure to be interesting.