Housing inventory

The results are in, and housing inventory fell in September across the country when compared to a year ago. However, there are higher inventory levels of available homes for sale in an increasing number of markets.

Across the nation, the homes listed for sale decreased 1.7% from August to September of this year, according to Realtor.com. Active listings were decreased by 2% from last year.

However, approximately 30% of the analyzed metro areas saw year-over-year increases in available homes listed for sale.

Although the housing market in several sectors has seen “brisk” sales thus far this year, there are indicators that previous significant inventory shortages are easing as rising prices are prompting more sellers to list their homes. Typically homes coming on the market decrease after the school year starts, but the drop in listings this September was more marked, according to industry economists.

This could have been because of the uncertainty regarding the economy resulting from the shutdown of the government and the ticking up of interest rates.

In Greenwich, over the past couple of years, we have seen activity in the fourth quarter of the year. Why? Because serious buyers are looking for homes. Some of the reasons include buyers expecting bonuses, buyers relocating to the area and buyers trying to purchase a home before the end of the year for tax benefits.

Areas of the country that are seeing an improvement in inventory and home prices include Los Angeles, Orange County and Sacramento, Calif., Atlanta, Ga., Orlando, Fla., and Phoenix, Ariz. Areas that are still experiencing a shortage of available homes are Detroit, Mich., Boston, Mass., and Denver, Colo. However, inventories increased from August to September of this year in all three of these locations.

Across the country, list prices of available homes for sale decreased 0.2% from August to September of this year yet were 6.4% above last year. Median asking prices were above 2012 prices in 30 metro areas across the country. As prices improve, homeowners are motivated to list. The National Association of Realtors reports that housing inventory went up 1.8% when comparing September of this year to the level of last year.

Another report was recently released by RealtyTrac regarding the type of buyers purchasing homes. Approximately 49% of homes sold in September were purchased with cash. This is up from 30% a year ago. Private equity firms and other institutional investors are paying cash for homes and then are renting them out. Real estate is providing better returns on investment as compared to other options.

Understandably, sellers prefer cash buyers because the current mortgage requirements can cause uncertainty as to whether the buyer can perform.

In closing, last week the Greenwich real estate community lost a colleague, Kathryn Clauss. Kathryn was a mother of five and grandmother to six wonderful children.

We wish to extend our condolences to her family. Kathryn will surely be missed, but will be remembered.


Mary Ann Clark is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker at 177 West Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. Questions or comments may be emailed to [email protected]

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