The market is hot and becoming very unbalanced in favor of sellers. Demand recovered suddenly during the second quarter and has stabilized at a level significantly above normal. The last 2 months have seen supply drop sharply from its already low level, so we now have a wholly inadequate number of homes for sale to keep the market functioning normally.

Here are the basics - the ARMLS numbers for August 1, 2019 compared with August 1, 2018 for all areas & types:

  • Active Listings (excluding UCB & CCBS): 13,746 versus 15,686 last year - down 12.4% - and down 11.0% from 15,442 last month
  • Active Listings (including UCB & CCBS): 17,920 versus 19,415 last year - down 7.7% - and down 10.5% compared with 20,030 last month
  • Pending Listings: 6,479 versus 5,655 last year - up 14.6% - and up 0.6% from 6,642 last month
  • Under Contract Listings (including Pending, CCBS & UCB): 10,653 versus 9,384 last year - up 13.5% - but down 5.1% from 11,230 last month
  • Monthly Sales: 9,325 versus 8,543 last year - up 9.2% - but down 1.7% from 9,483 last month
  • Monthly Average Sales Price per Sq. Ft.: $170.16 versus $160.79 last year - up 5.8% - but down 1.2% from $172.21 last month
  • Monthly Median Sales Price: $280,000 versus $265,000 last year - up 5.7% - and up 0.4% from $279,000 last month

Last month we noted the unusual drop in active listings (excluding UCB & CCBS), which fell to 4.1% below the 2018 level on July 1. On August 1 this gap has expanded to a startling 12.4%. Much of this decline was due to the low number of listings activated during July - 8,260 is our current count, the lowest number for July that we have seen since we started keeping records. With pending and UCB contracts up by 13 to 15% from last year, the supply has tightened dramatically. Where have all the sellers gone?

9,325 closed listings is another strong monthly total for July. The 9.2% growth over July 2018 is a little misleading, however. This is because July 2019 had 22 working days, so the number of closings per day was 424. July 2018 had only 21 days so 407 closings per day. The difference is 4%.

Dollar volume for July was $3.1995 billion. This is the highest total for any July in history.

Pricing is showing no excitement whatsoever, behaving as if the market was normal. This cannot last. Remember that sales pricing is a trailing indicator, often as much as 12 months behind the leading indicators. We expect to see fireworks in pricing over the next 12 months. In fact the current situation reminds us of 2004. The huge imbalance between supply and demand and the absence of distressed properties are very similar. The big difference is that 2004 was seeing large price increases and a significant number of the homes were being bought for resale by speculative investors and remained empty. The level of mortgage fraud in 2004 was also extraordinary. Hopefully that is not the case in 2019.

These are very interesting times, unlike the past 5 years which were stable and predictable.

Commentary written by Tina Tamboer, Senior Housing Analyst with The Cromford Report ©2019 Cromford Associates LLC and Tamboer Consulting LLC