A Real Threat?

The
question surrounding our market lately is shadow inventory and how will it
affect us.  Well in my opinion, it is a
very good question as it is a question I have been asking myself and our agents
for several months.  Over the past 18-24 months we have heard about
foreclosure being released into the market – it hasn’t happened as of
yet.  The latest indication from asset managers is that properties will be
released in the 2nd quarter of this year.  We shall see if it
occurs.

 

The
question I ask is for agents to look around their neighborhood for vacant
properties not currently listed for sale, and ask their neighbors and friends
if they see many unlisted vacant houses.  The answer I typically get is
no, there aren’t that many. 

 

We
ask how many of your friends or neighbors outside of real estate are unemployed
locally.  The answer, not many.  We ask our agents if requests for
BPO’s (broker price opinions) are on the rise, steady or going down – here you
get a very mixed bag but mostly we hear they are going up, but only
slightly. 

 

We
run MRIS numbers Friday mornings in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William,
Arlington, Fauquier, Alexandria City, Fairfax City, Falls Church City, Manassas
City and Manassas Park for resales only in the categories of actives, under
contract, settled the last 30 days, vacant, and rentals to help us determine
trends in the market.  As of this past Friday, there were 4,727 active
resales in these areas.  335 were listed as foreclosures, 931 were listed
as short sales and 41 were listed as undisclosed (which are more than likely
short sales) which represents 28% of the inventory.  These numbers are
below 2008 numbers when we experienced our foreclosure boom.  And, our
inventory numbers are down 54% from the same week last year and are down 70%
from 2 years ago.  Plus, we only have a 2.5 month supply of homes.

 

So
where will the shadow inventory come from is the question and I believe it is
foreclosures and unapproved short sales.  What dictates
foreclosures?  Unemployment is one of the biggest factors.  The job
loss to foreclosure ratio is 6 – 1.  I understand that unemployment in
Northern Virginia is around 4.2% which is very low.  Job relocation and
subsequent inability to sell.  Well national unemployment is over 10% and
companies are relocating here so we are seeing fewer relocations out of the
area.  Divorce is another factor – it is my understanding that they are
down because people are under water with values and can’t afford to finalize
divorces.  So it seems unlikely we will see a huge influx on inventory
from these areas but we do have two real threats in our future – Prime loan ARM
readjustments and the eventual unapproved short sales inventory being reentered
into inventory.  The only issue is we are unsure of the true number we
have here in our area and if it will have any significant impact.

 

We
will have “shadow” inventory but I don’t believe it to be a real threat to our
market as our inventory level is low and we should be able to absorb it with
the pent up demand we are experiencing with the home buyer tax credit expansion
and extension coupled with low rates and reduced valuations of properties.  Get it? 
Got it?  Good!

 

Now,
go sell something!

2 thoughts on “A Real Threat?

  1. Scott,
    I’ve been looking for signs of this shadow inventory also. My read on the market is that if even a huge number of these came on at once, there are enough buyers out there to quickly take them off the market. There is such a lack of inventory that these shadow listings would help move the market along as opposed to flooding it.

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