By Dick Thackston CRB, ABRM, ABR
The actual answer to the question in our title is very little.
From the street level- were you and I both are as buyers, sellers and REALTORS – mostly what it tells us is it’s not our imagination the people who make up these statistics only give a portion of the story or leave large parts of the story out.
I have absolutely no doubt that Home Sales Dropped 3%! In fact I’m sure of it!
But here’s what I think happened. The majority of sales at this point are in fact bank owned properties and Short Sales. For the last several months a large percentage of REO’s have been tied up either with Title Problems and/or litigation. The stream of buyers in the market while not as large as it once was seems constant at this point. Since early this summer there has been a decline in available REO inventory for these two reasons. Value Conscious Home Buyers have been out looking but have not been able to find satisfactory properties or the properties they have found have been snarled up with Title Problems.
Why, you may ask, did these buyers just not buy regular retail properties on the market from non-REO sources? The simple answer is they are waiting. They are waiting for REO inventory to become available, they know it’s coming and they are VERY PRICE CONCIOUS. The majority of retail home sellers and their agents still have an unrealistic expectation about pricing and many have had their properties on and off the market at the same or very nearly the same price for several years. It’s just not going to happen. Home Buyers in this market have lots of information, most of it good, some of it bad, but it’s more information than any other group of Home Buyers has had in history before making a decision to purchase, and Home Buyers are not betting the market changes anytime soon.
The good news is that as the litigation and Title Problems now seem to be clearing more inventory is coming on the market and lenders have started to embrace the short sale process rather than fight it so Short Sales are becoming more far more viable then they were even a year or so ago. To be sure lenders are not going to leave money on the table or sell for less than current fair market value but the approach they are taking now seems like a good thing for everybody and that doesn’t get picked up in the statistics.
Bottom line is the viability of the inventory is improving and buyers are responding even though we are likely years out from an actual fix in the housing market.