Source: Cirios Real Estate
This post first appeared in the March edition of: Cirios Trends: In Search of Real Estate Opportunities.
Last month, we discussed the role confidence plays in the housing market. The better Americans feel about the economy (using the stock market as a barometer of the country’s economic fortunes), the more likely they are to go out and buy a house.
Sticking with the theme of market psychology, let’s now examine the other side of the transaction: Sellers.
In today’s market, sellers basically fall into two categories: Those who can, and those who can’t. In other words, if you still have equity, you can sell. If you are underwater on your house, you can’t.
The decision for the latter of whether to sell is, unfortunately, pretty simple. So let’s consider the former, those fortunate homeowners who still have equity left in their homes.
Selling into a weak market is a drag. With so many homes to choose from, buyers can drive a hard bargain. And thanks to unrealistic expectations and bad advice from Realtors trying to win clients with lofty promises, thousands of sellers over-listed their homes and subsequently chased the market down throughout 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Very few voluntary sellers dipped their toes into the market because it was just so bad. The only true sellers were those who had to sell for some reason or another.
So what now? Housing isn’t nearly as bad as it was this time last year, and in many markets the worst of the price declines are likely over. Stocks rallied fiercely last year, rebuilding many damaged nest eggs. And even though there are looming threats out there to our nascent - and very governmentally influenced - economic recovery, things are not nearly as dire as they once were.
We wrote back in May 2009 that “Willing and able buyers are pouring back into the market. And as they do, sellers - buoyed by newfound confidence - are prepping their homes for the market.” Although inventory remained constrained throughout 2009, the percentage of distressed sales relative to regular sales is slowly dropping.
Recent data is seeping out that supports our view, and the trend is picking up steam so far in 2010. The graph below, courtesy of SocketSite, shows active listed inventory in the city of San Francisco. Notably, the black line representing 2010 has reached to the orange 2008 line … and check out that slope!
Anecdotal evidence supports the data. Sellers are trying to get in ahead of the summer buyer season, particularly with the (latest) expiration of the homebuyer tax credit just around the corner in June.