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9 Years' Worth of Homes

Date: 2010-04-25T04:20:06.030
Author: Michael J. Panzner
Byline: Financial Armageddon
Editor note: Shadow inventory -- is not going away any time soon. And ... yet we still build new homes. Gee ... somebody is smoking something funny to be encouraging new construction when there is 9 years supply of existing homes.
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9 Years' Worth of Homes

Economic theory has it that prices tend to rise when demand exceeds supply. But when the potential inventory of homes for sale by banks -- which is aside from the properties that homeowners and builders might also be looking to unload -- is equivalent to nine years' worth of demand, as detailed by Real Time Economics in "Number of the Week: 103 Months to Clear Housing Inventory," that suggests those who see signs of a recovery in the residential real estate market should probably be thinking about checking into rehab:

103: The number of months it would take to sell off all the foreclosed homes in banks’ possession, plus all the homes likely to end up there over the next couple years, at the current rate of sales.

How much should we worry about a new leg down in the housing market? If the number of foreclosed homes piling up at banks is any indication, there’s ample reason for concern.

As of March, banks had an inventory of about 1.1 million foreclosed homes, up 20% from a year earlier, according to estimates from LPS Applied Analytics. Another 4.8 million mortgage holders were at least 60 days behind on their payments or in the foreclosure process, meaning their homes were well on their way to the inventory pile. That “shadow inventory” was up 30% from a year earlier.

Based on the rate at which banks have been selling those foreclosed homes over the past few months, all that inventory, real and shadow, would take 103 months to unload. That’s nearly nine years. Of course, banks could pick up the pace of sales, but the added supply of distressed homes would weigh heavily on prices — and thus boost their losses.

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