Jeff Dowler reports that Oceanside supply (number of properties available) is dropping precipitously. This phenomenon is happening all over San Diego County causing new home buyers to get into bidding wars for aggressively-priced, bank-owned properties:
At the end of May 2009 there were 726 Oceanside homes for sale (380 detached and 346 attached) a decline of 7% from the end of April (this includes the homes with Contingent status). This represents an inventory of only 1.8 months for detached homes and 3.7 months for detached homes based on the current rate of sales over the last 6 months, both of which declined again from the previous month. These absorption rates continue to be impressive when compared to many other parts of the country, some of which have over 2 years of inventory. Indeed we are seeing more multiple offers, not only on distress sales but also on regular sales, especially below $400,000.
In May we saw 162 homes come on the market, 31% fewer than in April (and almost half the number of new listings in March) . During May 211 homes went pending, about 20% fewer than in the previous month. So coupled with another decline in inventory (with fewer new homes for sale) we saw an increase in volume, which has resulted in the low absorption rates noted above.
Is this the bottom of the real estate market or, as Greg Swann referred to this phenomenon in Phoenix, a "Fools Gold Rush" ?
Here's what's really going on: Last fall FannieMae and FreddieMac, along with some of the bigger private mortgage banks, declared a moratorium on new foreclosures.
So for four months, homes that would have been foreclosed on sat on the sidelines of the real estate market.
And for those same four months, inventories of already-foreclosed homes declined. In March of 2009, for example, a total of 7,621 listed homes were sold in the Phoenix area, of which 5,066 -- two thirds! -- were lender-owned homes.
That sounds good doesn't it? Even better, as I write this, only 7,607 lender-owned homes are listed as being Active in the MLS database. That's just a month-and-a-half's supply. Happy days are here again!
Not quite. That Fannie/Freddie moratorium on new foreclosures ended on April 1st. In the first three weeks of April, there were 2,460 new lender-owned listings. And there are still two years of foreclosures in the pipeline.
What we're seeing is a Fool's Gold Rush. The perceived shortage of housing is an illusion, an artifact of a normal number of buyers competing for an inventory that seems to be declining rapidly. It isn't. Instead, even now the inventory of lender-owned homes is surging.
Head fake or hard numbers? The federal foreclosure mortatorium is over but the State of California just initiated a like measure for ninety days. Are these moratoria government's efforts to delay the inevitable or are bargains really available to the San Diego County home buyers? Keep in mind that lenders will have been forbidden to pursue a defaulted San Diego County homeowner for seven out of twelve months this year. This could lead to an onslaught of inventory after Halloween. That might just be okay because we're seeing lots of pent-up demand to mop up that excess supply.
A first-time home buyer tax credit, combined with relatively low mortgage rates still might make today's property offerings a bargain. You might analyze each property the way we do so that your downside is limited. Certainly, property prices should be higher in 2020 than they are today. Just be careful to do your homework.
Whichever you decide, Jeff Dowler is a pretty sharp North County real estate agent. Use his Search tool to look at the properties offered.