For-sale inventory continues to shrink

Bidding wars are common as the number of homes for sale shrinks during the traditional spring selling season. How about 250 offers on one home?

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Apr 5, 2013 7:52AM

© Simon Jarratt/CorbisAs spring comes into full bloom across the country, one thing that is not growing is the inventory of homes for sale.


A new analysis of data from 38 cities by Movoto, a real-estate brokerage, found that inventory was down 21.2% in March compared with March 2012, based on multiple listing service data. Price per square foot was up 11.5%.


The number of homes for sale was down 51% from 2011 and 35.4% from 2010.


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As other analyses have shown, California continued to show the sharpest declines in inventory. The number of homes for sale was down 81% in Oakland, 70.6% in Sacramento and 51.3% in Long Beach from March 2012.

Bidding wars are breaking out in many cities as buyers compete for scarce homes.


"The only question is not whether a new listing will get multiple bids but how many it will get," Kris Vogt, who manages 14 Coldwell Banker offices in Sacramento, told CNN Money. One home in Elk Grove, Calif., listed for $129,000, got 62 bids and sold for more than $150,000.

In Cambridge, Mass., two condos that could be combined, offered for $800,000 each, drew more than 250 bids and sold for $2 million total, CNN Money reported.

While 32 of the 38 cities in the Movoto analysis showed declines in inventory of homes for sale -- ranging from 4% in Mesa, Ariz., to the 81% in Oakland -- six cities reported an increase in inventory. They were Baltimore, where the number of homes for sale rose 26.9%; Miami, up 14%; Tucson, Ariz., up 5.7%; Philadelphia, up 5.2%; Colorado Springs, up 3.2%; and Phoenix, up 0.5%.


The cities showing the greatest decline in inventory, after Oakland, Sacramento and Long Beach, were Seattle, down 48%; Boston, down 45.1%; Los Angeles, down 45%; and Denver, down 43%. You can see the entire list here.


The sale price per square foot rose in 28 of the cities, with increases ranging from 35.5% in Sacramento to 0.9% in Tucson. The price per square foot remained the same in two cities, Detroit and Houston, and declined in eight: Chicago, 15%; Charleston, S.C., 4.1%; New Orleans, 3.4%; Cleveland, 2.1%; Philadelphia, 1.8%; Dallas, 1.6%; Memphis, Tenn., 1.5%; and Minneapolis, 0.8%.

Apr 13, 2013 6:08PM
I'm trying to sell my updated home in NW Indiana (30 minutes from Chicago) and it is showing, but ranch homes are not moving.  I wish we had serious buyers, but it seems like everyone is just dreaming of ownership. This article doesn 't reflect the overall market in the midwest.
Apr 13, 2013 5:11PM
does this look like something we just went thru, paying to much for houses. i see a disaster coming again.
Apr 13, 2013 4:29PM
I meant to say Unemployment is down. typo error
Apr 13, 2013 4:28PM
If you believe inventories are down then you are pretty ill informed.  Unless you are believing Government Numbers. Like Government Numbers say 16,000 new jobs were created in a month and an average of 285,000 new unemployment claims are filed in a week and they say employment is down. Numbers don't Lie but people do lie about numbers.  Search Ghost Foreclosures and then see another picture.
Apr 13, 2013 3:37PM

Well,ive been looking at houses and see a  house foreclosed or short sale then being offered at 3times the price

Apr 13, 2013 2:36PM

Isn't this great?  The country hasn't dug itself out of the last housing bubble and here we go again. The morally-challenged media is trying to create hysteria by reporting inventory shortages, meteoric increases in price, and constant comparisons to the price of houses when they were at unrealistic and unsustainable highs.  The realtors are playing purchasers against each other and instigating bidding wars.  Meanwhile, the govt is AGAIN floating the idea of sub-prime mortgages.  So once again insanity prevails and a housing bubble is born.

Apr 13, 2013 2:26PM

Well as someone who just sold her town home and bought a new house in March of 2013 I can actually agree with these numbers. When I listed our metro area had over 7k homes in inventory. My place sold for over list in 1 hour from being put on the MLS in the middle of a snow storm. After about 2 weeks I put down a contract on my new place. The seller of my new place is going to rent because she still can't find a home to live. At the time she started looking our metro area had less than 6k properties and the number is drastically dwindling.

I noticed most of the properties listed are homes that would NEVER sell in a good, decent inventory market. I mean pure crap. One guy was listing his little 2 bedroom 1 bath 1950's ranch complete with structural damage and a garage that was leaning to the side for $230k. Are you freaking kidding me??

Houses on busy streets where you hear the traffic 24/7 going for mid $200k with about 900 sq. ft.

It's a vicious cycle I think. If you don't have to move then you don't because there is nothing to buy. But then if you don't list; there's nothing to buy because no one adds their home to the inventory. It just goes around and around.

Apr 13, 2013 2:19PM

TRUTH-Very few homes on the market. 

We have been looking for a house since August.  In Jan. and Feb. we put offers on 3 houses, first sold to someone else, second raised their price $25,000 above our above list price, third house owner won't negotiate off list even though needed tons of work and had been on market 5 months.  Since then there has been NOTHING on the market.  There were more houses listed in Jan. & Feb. then Mar. & April.  Sucks waiting for the right house.  We own our current home but need more space if we have another child so planning ahead may not work out.

Apr 13, 2013 1:22PM
I'm glad I waited until the recession was somewhat over. My home sold last moth for $225,000 instead of the appraised price of $185,000 back in 2011. My realtor told me that she wished there were more homes going up for sale because her Realty has more clients than homes to offer. I received 4 offers in 2 I was happy.  I do agree that some of these numbers seem inflated. I don't trust government numbers though it is pretty tight here in Evansville..
Apr 13, 2013 8:48AM
I'm in Henderson,NV and I bought my townhome in '96, paid $100k for it.  They are selling for $70k, one was listed for $119k and is still sitting on the market.
Apr 13, 2013 5:40AM
I read in a report not more than 6 months ago that the Banks own 19,000,000 (19 million) homes in the USA... foreclosed homes... they are just sitting on them.... so there is no shortage of homes sitting empty... but since they are not for sale the realtors show a shortage in some areas... and guess who is paying for those 19 million homes... WE ARE... QE 1, QE2, & QE3... the FED is printing over 1 trillion dollars per year... and not just this year but for many years now... they are just shuffling money around... the stock market as a whole is not doing near as well as the Dow Jones Average... A big bubble just waiting to burst... it will ...
Apr 6, 2013 9:52AM
You better learn now that the rich, and the big money are buying houses for cash by the thousands. This situation will removed millions of houses from total inventory and the average earnings people will not have an opportunity to buy a house at a fair price because the inventory is seriously decreased, and the houses the rich are buying are put back on the market at very high prices to get a big profit form the working class! This is always the case in our USA, the rich keep controlling the poor, the food, the jobs! Definitely this will lead to another housing bubble, and another major housing collapsed in 2015!
Apr 6, 2013 9:12AM
The banks are holding houses back. Artificailly inflating prices.
Apr 6, 2013 5:13AM

I have nothing against the rich as a matter of fact I say go for it!!  There are lots of "middle class" buying up homes that are selling for 60 to 85% of there past value and the rents have gone up 25%. This makes owing a investment home a (bought at the right price) a good deal.

   I personally think the economy will have another large down turn , but when the prices of these homes goes back up there will be a nice capital gains. (assuming it is not all taxed away)

   This Is but one way to become wealthy or at least more financially secure. But no risk no gain, nothing is guaranteed.  Smart people who kept there stocks when the market tanked are now selling them off because of the artificially (bubble) being created by the fed.  A lot of these profits are being use to buy discounted real estate producing cash flow.

    So let the whiners who bitch about the rich keep on complaining and waiting for Obama to make it fair (which means take it away for them and give me more) . These people have been and always will be the takers of society.

   To clarify my point the housing inventory is not going down because of "new buyers" but more because of "investment " buyers. Also banks are not selling or listing all of there forclosers thus keeping the available inventory low, making the houses they sell more expensive , (keeping prices up)  .  Why should they put them all out there because our government is buying back from the bank 85 billion dollars worth of "bad" mortgage per month at no expense to the banks. Obama is also lending money to the banks at 0% to .05% while they lend it out at 3.5% to 20%.

    And Obama is taking credit for the improvement in the housing market!!! 

Apr 6, 2013 4:52AM
 shortage of houses?  why because corporations and large  investors   are buying all the homes. they are paying cash. they are trying to create a shortage. be careful, another bubble in the making.
Apr 6, 2013 3:40AM
There are a lot of homes in this area for sale...central fl....come on down and buy a home!
Apr 6, 2013 1:52AM
The media gets pay to make it sound as there are no the prices have to up....!!
Gringos are houses are affordable....but no......the sheep want the rich to get richer.....and drive up the prices,,,,!!
Apr 6, 2013 1:50AM

More positive news about an economy on the brink of collapse.Who's writing this stuff Jay Carney.


Apr 5, 2013 10:56PM
While in Waterbury,CT you can't give houses away!!!
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