Is there really an inventory shortage?

You have all read – and I have written enough – about the chronic shortage of inventory to assume that the answer to this question is a resounding yes. But it all depends on price.

A market is considered to be in equilibrium between buyers and sellers when the number of homes for sale equals about 6 months of sales. I have put together charts for Marblehead, Swampscott and Essex County overall, showing, by price, the number of sales so far this year plus the number scheduled to close by June 30 and compared that with the number of homes currently for sale. If the market were in equilibrium  – the two bars for each price would be the same size.

Let’s see what we have. First, let’s look at the overall market for Marblehead and Swampscott: clearly supply is below the level of a market in equilibrium, so it is a sellers’ market.

Housing inventory

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Now let’s look in more detail. First, Marblehead:

Marblehead housing supply

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

At all price points up to $1 million, supply is way below sales levels for the first half of the year. But as soon as we go over $1 million the position is reversed. And the total number of homes for sale under $1 million is just 23.

Next, Swampscott:

Swampscott housing inventory

A similar story here, except that the supply equation reverses at $700,000 – with one exception. Note that from $1-1.5 million there are fewer homes for sale than have sold so far in 2017.

Finally, let’s look at the 34 cities and towns of Essex County overall:

Essex housing inventory

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

And in more detail:

Essex County housing inventory

Source: MLS, Oliver Reports

Sellers are in control up to $700,000; the market is in balance between $700,000 and $1 million; and it is a buyers’ market over $1 million.

One of the surprises of the market this year has been how weak demand has been for higher-priced homes. Logically, with the market so active under $1 million, and macro-economic factors – the stock market at record levels, expectations/hopes of tax cuts coming – positive, one would expect to see sellers trading up. And that is especially true in a town Marblehead, a town people are reluctant to leave – meaning most sellers plan to buy another house in town.

The optimistic view is that this may be a timing issue and that sales of higher priced houses will soon pick up. But clearly this is an excellent time to trade up to a higher priced home – and you don’t have to compete with 90 groups at Marblehead Open House.

Are you thinking about selling? Read  Which broker should I choose to sell my house?

Please contact me on 617.834.8205 or for a free market analysis and explanation of the outstanding marketing program I offer

If you are looking to buy, I will contact you immediately when a house that meets your needs is available. In this market you need to have somebody looking after your interests.

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty. Each Office Is Independently Owned and Operated




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