And the 26 months inventory figure does not include "shadow inventory," properties that owners or banks want to sell, but which are not in the MLS because they are:
- *Houses that have been pulled off the market for the winter or until the market "turns;"
- *Foreclosures not yet put up for sale again;
- *Houses that have been offered for sale but are now rentals due to lack of buyers.
Albemarle County - 33%
Charlottesville - 11%
The region - 25%
The 26 months and sales percentage figures (as well as the graph) are from Realtor/Blogger Jim Duncan of RealCentralVA. In his End of Year Market Report for the Charlottesville Area, he cautions that MLS information may be unreliable. But unless he's made a big error, as far as he can tell the number is 26--up from November's 18 months of inventory.
*What does 26 months of inventory mean for sellers? It means there's a need to price aggressively lower than what "comparable" properties are priced.
It means that if a seller needs to "make" a certain amount on a sale (due to a HELOC or ARM, etc.) the seller is in a much less favorable position than a seller who has the ability to accept any offer.
*What may 26 months of inventory mean for buyers? Lowball offers. Nationwide, and in this area, houses will continue losing value over the next 12-24 months; Dr. Doom sees the bottom in 2010. There's just too much inventory, too many foreclosures on the way, and the jobs recovery is two years out from this recession.
Many economists believe the worst is yet to come. Additionally, the housing market's not coming back; the overvaluations seen in this decade are gone forever.
Our region is not protected. This recent post, about local economic troubles, contains merely the latest updates.
But the upside is that for those who do wish to buy right now, not only is there plenty of selection, but mortgage rates are hovering at historic lows. For those who are seeking a house for the sake of comfort, security, and as a reflection of habit, tastes, and predilection, there's plenty to choose from. If a lowball offer is declined, move right on. Next!
But for those who think of a house as an appreciating asset? No. That's the wrong reason to buy. Better to look into gold (and even then....)
Read the complete End of Year Market Report for the Charlottesville Area. This report has much more data, including availability figures, median prices for the surrounding Counties, number of properties under contract, and so forth.
After the holidays, we'll have more information on buying/selling in this shockingly slow market and troubled economy.