The Incredible Disappearing Home Inventory

by 20 Aug 2012

 (WSJ) -- It’s no secret to anyone who has paid attention to housing markets over the past year that the number of homes for sale has dropped sharply.

New interactive maps from Zillow help show where the inventory declines have been the most dramatic and at what price points.

For example, in Phoenix, where inventory was down in June by nearly 48% from one year ago, the biggest decline is for the least expensive third of the housing market, where supplies are down by 67%. This reflects heavy demand from investors for cheap properties that can be held off the market and rented at a profit.

“On the seller side, most homes priced below $250,000 are attracting a large number of offers and often exceed the asking price,” says Michael Orr, a housing analyst at Arizona State University. That’s created a “dire” situation for home buyers. “Any offer from an ordinary home buyer is typically going to be less attractive than the multiple all-cash offers from investors with few strings attached and no appraisal required. Many ordinary buyers are coming away empty-handed after submitting 10 or more offers.”

Miami inventory is down by 35% from one year ago while Los Angeles and Riverside, Calif., are each down by 36%.

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