Low inventory

Home prices have increased in some areas of the country this past year. This is, in part, because home inventory is at the lowest level in more than five years and it’s naturally having an impact on available inventory.

There were 1.57 million homes available for sale at end of last year. Inventory was 6.5% down in November and it was down by 17.3% when compared to 2011. In certain parts of the country, inventories have dropped as much as 68% over the year, according to Realtor.com.

It’s been a buyer’s market for some time. Many homeowners are waiting to list their homes until the market improves. The number of homes listed in January and February will indicate buyer interest and sellers’ expectations.

Inventories of homes have decreased the most from December 2011 to December 2012. Many of the areas in California had a drop in inventory — for example, Sacramento experienced a 68% decline. Seattle and Atlanta had significant decreases as well.

In Greenwich, the total number of listings decreased 24.33% when comparing 2012 to 2011. Single-family homes decreased 26.94%, condos and co-ops decreased 36.47%, multi-family homes 3.33%, commercial listings 31.58%, and land 24.39%, according to Greenwich MLS.

In 2012, 593 single-family homes sold, along with 149 condos and co-ops, 20 multi-family, two commercial, and 13 parcels of land, whereas in 2011, there were 522 single-family homes sold, 129 condos and co-ops, 24 multi-family, two commercial, and 22 land parcels, says the Greenwich MLS. Note that there were 794 rentals in 2012 as compared to 8,800 in 2011. Those numbers show that renters are starting to buy homes.

Typically, inventories decrease toward the end of the year, January and into February, due to the holidays, spending hangovers and poor weather, all of which impact showings. What is unusual is that inventories did not really increase in 2012.

The National Association of Home Builders reports that developers started new homes in December at the fastest rate in more than four years. Housing starts increased 12.1% in December, which is the fastest rate since June 2008. Housing starts for single-family homes increased 8.1% in December. Most of the increase was attributed to a 20.3% increase in multifamily construction last month, according to the United States Commerce Department.

Permits for future home building increased slightly in December to the fastest rate since July 2008. Permits increased by the greatest in the Northeast by 19% and 6.6% in the West. The Midwest saw a 5.7% decrease in housing permits, while the South saw a 3.4% decline in December.

As with our part of the country, we will have to see if more properties are listed to better meet demand.


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] or she may be reached directly at 203-249-2244.

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